Basics of Home distillation (For New Zealand Customers)
Home distillation of spirits is illegal in many countries including Australia. Therefore unless you are in New Zealand consult with your local legislation before you use the information provided in this section.
Fermentation occurs when sugar is converted to ethanol (alcohol) by yeast. During the process sugar is broken into various compounds. To achieve fermentation you will require turbo yeast, which comes in a wide range to suit different climate and conditions. Some of the turbo yeasts available at Malthouse home brew include Alcotec 48 Turbo Yeast, Alcotec 24 Turbo Yeast and Vodka Star Turbo Yeast (the cleanest of them all).
A distillation device called a still is used to separate the alcohol from the water in the fermented mixture. The process involves heating the mixture. Alcohol reaches boiling point before water which means it vaporises first. The still cools down the vapour forming drops of liquid alcohol (distilled spirits), which can be collected outside the still. Our distillation units include the Still Euro 5 All Stainless Reflux and Still Mk5 Pot Stainless Steel Condenser.
In this step the distilled spirit is run through a filter to get rid of any unwanted impurities and smells. The filtering is done using a carbon mixture and a filter paper. You can purchase Carbon Reflux 400G,Carbon Contact Reactive 300G, Carbon Filter 400G and Carbon Treatment 500G.
Achieving the desired alcohol strength
The alcohol level of the distilled and filtered spirit could be as high as 95%, which is poisonous. The desired level for spirits is around 40% and 22% for liqueurs. Water can be added to dilute the spirit to the right alcohol level. To measure the level you will need one of our Spirit hydrometers.
What's your flavour ?
Your spirit is now ready to be used in creating the drink of your choice. To do this you can choose from our range of spirit and liquer essences.Visit our Spirits and Liqueur product page for a wide range of products including books on home distillation
Detailed to tutorial on home distillation of spirits
Things to do;
Sterilise all equipment before use.
Things you will need;
30 litre Fermenter fitted with airlock and tap.
Stick on digital thermometer 10 - 40 degrees C
Carbon Filtering Unit.
- Fill sterilised fermenter with 19 litres water at 40 degrees Celsius.
- Add 9 kgs of Dextrose - this will result in a drop of water temperature to 35 degrees Celsius.
- Use stirrer to mix until Dextrose is dissolved
- Sprinkle Alcotec 24 Turbo Yeast on the surface of the Dextrose and water mix and secure lid and fit airlock.
- Stand the fermenter in a place where the air temperature is between 15 and 30 degrees Celsius.
- When the hydrometer reading is stable for 24 hours and the reading is below 990 S.G Fermentation is finished
- Use Finings to remove any yeast and other solids before transferring the mix to the boiler.
Transferring the mix to the boiler.
- Unseal the fermenter lid to allow air in when tap is opened.
- Collect the first 100 mls from the tap and discard as this first run through the tap may contains lots of solids.
- Run the mix into the boiler. When you get down to the last bit of the mix tilt the fermenter to get the last bit of the mix out, taking care not to disturb the yeast and other solids off the bottom of the fermenter.
- Fit the lid complete with the condenser to the boiler making sure that the spirit outlet is not over either of the elements.
- Insert the glass thermometer that came with the boiler into the black bung. The thermometer should protrude through the bung by 20 mm. Fit this to the top of the Condenser.
Distilling the Mix using the Reflux Still.
- Fit the two cords to the still and plug into a power supply. Both elements are used to heat the unit up but it is necessary to disconnect one during distillation. Turn on the water flow to the condenser.
- The mix will take about 1 hour to start boiling. Before distillate starts to come out of the condenser, water should be flowing through the condenser at about 1 litre per minute (This could be higher in warm conditions or slower in cold conditions).
- When the mix is boiling and the thermometer reading starts to increase, but before distillate starts to drip out of the condenser, one of the elements should be disconnected.
- Use one element during distillation
- Collect and discard the first 50 ml of distillate.
- Collect a further 3.5 litres. Stop collecting distillate if the thermometer rises above 90 degrees Celsius or if the strength of the distillate falls below 60%A/V.
- Overall the distillate collected should be approx. 80%A/V if it is lower in strength than this then more water should be run through the condenser next time. If it is higher than this then it is likely that you will not have collected 3.5 litres and less water could be run through the condenser next time you run the still.
Measuring the strength of your alcohol.
Float your alcometer in the spirit and read the hydrometer on the line that cuts the surface of the alcohol. The higher the strength of alcohol, the further down the alcometer will float in the liquid.
Filtering your alcohol.
After you have collected your alcohol it then needs to be filtered.
First water your alcohol down to 50%A/V approx. The impurities are more easily removed when the alcohol is lower in strength. If you have collected 3.5 litres at 80%A/V then you will need to add 2.6 litres of clean drinkable water to bring your total to 5.6 litres.
Open the tap fully and collect the spirit that runs through the filter. Recycle the first litre of spirit back to the reservoir and then collect the rest.
Once you have collected all the spirit then check the strength and water down to 37.5%A/V.
An easy way to work out how much water to add is to measure the quantity of spirit collected and check the strength.
Multiply the quantity by the actual strength and divide this by the required strength. This will give you the amount of alcohol you should have.
5.5 litres @ 55% would be calculated as follows. 5.5 x 55 = 302.5 - 302.5 divided by 37.5 = 8 litres.
In this example you will need to add 2.5 litres.