Distilling alcohol with a water distiller will be easiest for those with at least a basic understanding of fermentation and the distillation process. With a little education on those topics, the actual distillation of alcohol through a standard water distiller is fairly easy and will allow you to experiment in creating new blends of liquor.
Remove the carbon filter from the water distiller. When distilling water, the function of the carbon filter is to remove unwanted chemicals, particularly organic chemicals, which cling to the carbon. However, when distilling alcohol, the removal of such chemicals is undesirable, as those chemicals are often what gives the alcohol flavor.
Pour the mash into the distiller. The mash might be a concoction composed of a fermented starch or fermented sugary liquid. It is also possible to distill a drink containing low alcoholic content, such as wine, into a liquid with a higher alcoholic content. If you have fermented your own mash, be sure to smell or taste it to make sure that you have not allowed too much oxygen into the mix and inadvertently created vinegar.
Turn on the distiller, and place a cup underneath the spigot. Depending on the chemical composition of the mash, and the power of the distiller, the time may vary, but after two to three hours on average, distilled alcohol will begin dripping into the cup.
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Mix the alcohol to create the desirable taste, switching cups throughout the process to capture different distillation levels. Because pure alcohol boils at a lower temperature than water, the distiller will bring steam from the purest alcohol into its cooling chamber first, which means that the first drops of liquid into the cup will have the highest alcoholic content. The level of alcohol will become less as the distiller continues to heat until, in the end, it drips water.
Because most people don't drink pure alcohol, and you don't want pure water, the liquid in the middle is often the best-tasting. However, the best way to experiment is by creating a blend. By continually tasting the alcohol as it drips, and switching out cups in the process to capture different levels of alcoholic composition, you will be able to mix and match the different distillation levels and create a liquor of any strength suited to your taste.
Do not distill the alcohol near a flame, as the purest distillations are highly flammable.
The mash must be ethanol based, created from sugar or starch, and not methanol based (i.e., rubbing alcohol, anything created from fermented wood). Methanol is toxic and can cause blindness or death.
It is illegal to distill liquor in the United States without holding a license to do so.
Ray Dallas graduated with majors in journalism and English. While in Florida, he wrote freelance articles for "The Alligator" and was the copy editor and a writer for "Orange & Blue." Since moving to California, Dallas has worked as a script reader and for a talent manager, as well as taking numerous industry odd jobs.