Making your own spirits is a complicated process, but very cheap and even more rewarding. You can make your own ethanol, and dilute it with water and add all manner of ingredients to create a unique flavour.
To make your own spirits, you will need:
- Fermenter, or bucket
- Carbon Filter
Making Your Spirits
There are four principle stages involved in making spirits:
To start with, you must clean and sterilise your equipment. This includes the fermenter, or bucket, airlock, hydrometer and stirrer. Clean your equipment with warm water and detergent, and then rinse it with boiling water. After you have sterilised your fermenter, seal it to prevent it from becoming contaminated.
Part fill your fermenter with cold water then add boiling water. Check the temperature with a good quality thermometer to ensure it is around 40C. Remove some of the water to adjust the volume to 21l. Add 6kg of sugar and stir it well. When it is dissolved, add a sachet (12 – 20g) of strong yeast, sprinkling it over the top of the mixture. If you are using a professional fermenter, fix the lid and airlock and leave it for 24 hours. If you are using a bucket, cover it with a tea towel and leave in a warm place for at least 24 hours.
After 24 hours the mixture should be bubbling and will have become frothy. Stir the mixture with a wooden spoon and leave it for a further 24 hours. Fermentation can take between three and seven days.
Fermentation is complete when the yeast has used up all of the sugar. All signs of fermentation should be finished and your hydrometer reading will have a static reading of around 990.
A distillation unit will separate the ethanol from the water mixture. You can make your own distiller or you can buy one from a specialist shop. Once you have distilled your mixture, water the ethanol down with fresh water so it is 50% ethanol.
Filter your mixture to remove mineral salts from the carbon present. Once you have filtered your spirit, add more fresh water to reduce the strength of the alcohol.
Finishing the Spirit
Once you have completed the four basic principles of spirit making, you will have a potent mixture of ethanol and water. To turn this mixture into a palatable drink, you can add various fruits to it to add flavour. You can use all sorts of ingredients, from fruits to boiled sweets.
In some countries, bees and seahorses are added to the ethanol mixture (although this isn’t recommended). Fruits to consider include: blackberries, raspberries, blueberries and sloes. You could also be adventurous and add liquorice root, horseradish, radishes, for a spicy kick or chocolate, to make a sweet syrup. Once you have created a basic ethanol mixture, you can add anything to it to flavour it.
Distilling alcohol is illegal in the UK unless you hold a rectifier’s licence (Alcoholic Liquor Duties Act 1979 s18(1).