Traditional Appalachian (U.S.) sweet mash corn whiskey

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Traditional Appalachian (U.S.) sweet mash corn whiskey

Postby MtnMoonshiner » Wed Apr 03, 2013 10:35 pm

Here's the recipe I use for my sweet mash corn whiskey(as opposed to sour mash whiskey). It's a fairly traditional style recipe from my area, but this particular one was taught to me by my uncle. I'm sure it's a little different here and there from others around in my neck of the woods. Keep in mind that it's for quite a lot...I'll let you use your imagination as to why I would ever make this much :)) Just figure up the percentages, and dial it down according to your own needs/wants. In the past I've cut it down to 50% of everything, for a small run, and it came out just as good.

This is how I make this particular mash from start to finish. Again, please keep in mind that I'm coming from a more traditional and old school background, you can adjust the techniques as you see fit. Also, if you know a better way, please let me know! I'm also here to learn

This is to be mixed in one 200L(55gal) barrel

-22kg(50lbs) of dried cracked yellow corn. The kind without any additives or other grains, that you'd buy at a feed store to feed chickens. You can also use corn meal, just make sure it's not the self rising kind.
-11kg(25lbs) rye meal.
-5.8kg(13lbs) ground barley malt.
-25 lbs. of sugar. I was taught only to use the sugar if it was really hot outside, because it helps keep the temperature of the mash from getting too high(via endothermic reaction). However, using the sugar increases the alcohol content. Keep in mind as a general rule of thumb though, that the more sugar you add,you get a higher proof, but you sacrifice a little flavor. The less sugar, a little lower proof, but the more you'll be able to taste the grain and corn. Depends on what you want.
-2 packages of yeast. I personally use regular baking yeast. I've tried the brewers and distillers varieties, but I've found it don't really make much a difference.

Heat 75L(20gal) of water to boiling and pour in the barrel. Add the cracked corn and stir with a wooden dowel rod until the corn starts to soften a little and suck up some of the water. If you're using meal, stir it until all the clumps are broke up and it's about average consistency. Add the rye meal and mix until all the clumps of that are broke up. let the mash cool for about 2 hours, then pour a few gallons of the mixture into a separate bucket and stir in all but .5kg(about a 1lb) of the malt. Stir it up real good and pour that mixture back into the main barrel, then mix that in real good with the overall mash.

Sprinkle the remainder of the malt on the top surface of the mash and let it sit until the malt begins to crack(you'll see what I mean). When the malt on the surface cracks, start stirring the barrel from the bottom up, until it's cool enough to stir with your bare hand and arm. Fill up the rest of the barrel with water, but make sure you keep the mash temperature around about 35C(95F). That's around the optimum temperature for the yeast to do it's thing, but not too hot to kill it. This is when you'll decide to either add the sugar, or exclude it. Depending on what I said above

Put a small amount of mash in a separate bucket and mix in the yeast. When the mixture begins foaming up, pour it back into the mash barrel. Stir it up real good and cover it, but not tightly. I use a canvas tarp, or a piece of plywood laid over the top of the barrel. Just something to keep bugs and other critters out. In a few hours, the entire barrel should be working. Depending on the outside temperature and environmental conditions.

There are several ways from my school to tell whether or not it's ready to run through the still. Once the mash starts to ferment, it will form on top what we call a cap. That's the foamy, film that forms on top. Once the cap dissolves nearly all the way, it should be ready to run. However, you should taste a bit of the wash. It will taste similar to a corn flavored beer that you'd buy at a store, if it was something that was even sold. Taste it and you'll see what I mean. By the taste test, it should taste bitter and like it's got enough alcohol in it. This is normally something you have to be shown by someone else. But since you're in a completely different country, we'll have to do the best we can hahaha. Regardless, it should be ready to run in 4 to 6 days, depending on outside temperature and conditions.

Before I run it, I strip the slop corn/grain out and distill only the wash. You can pour the entire mash into the still if you're in a hurry, but it's a real pain to clean out afterwords. And you run a greater risk of the mash puking out of the pot and farther into your still. If this happens, you'll be able to tell because the liquor will start coming out a milky white color...or the flow will stop, and your still will blow up from too much pressure! :))

Some final points. The barley and rye are optional but add a fantastic flavor in my opinion...However, you can use just straight corn(I recommend trying just corn eventually and seeing which you like best).

You can use corn malt, or barley malt. It doesn't matter which, but you need to use some kind of malt, because it aids the yeast in breaking down the sugars into alcohol. If you decide to use corn malt, just subtract the amount of barley malt from the total amount of corn. for example, 50lbs of corn total, but if I don't use barley malt I would use 13lbs of malted corn, with 37lbs of unmalted corn for a total of 50lbs. And then add unmalted barley and rye in their prescribed amounts.

If you can't find rye or barley meal, just throw the whole grains into a good quality blender a little at a time and chop it up real fine. It doesn't have to be powdery like meal to work though.

As stated above, this is for a sweet mash whiskey. I personally prefer sour mash whiskey. I can explain the difference if you don't know, but if you think you'll want sour mash whiskey, you have to make this first and with cracked corn instead of meal; since you'll use a portion(or all) of this mash to start your next run, depending on which technique you use.

I was taught, and have found out from personal experience that the hotter you run your still, the more harsh the liquor is. And vice versa. That being said, since I run a still that's akin to something your great grandfather might have seen, I don't have any temperature gauges...or any gauges for that matter! The typical technique we use to determine if you're running your liquor too fast/hot is by how much it's coming out the money piece(that's the spout at the end of the worm. The worm is what we refer to the condenser coil as). You don't want it coming out in a stream any bigger than about the size of a match stem, or maybe a little smaller than a pencil.

Also, if any part of this is confusing, or if you don't know how to malt your own barley or corn, whichever you decide to use, let me know and I'll give you directions, it ain't hard to do at all.

I hope this isn't too much information, but I didn't want anyone to be left in the dark on any points. There are few short answers in this craft, and I think I'd be doing a disservice to anyone by explaining it in any less detail. That being said, this whiskey should proof at about 125-150 fresh out of the still, and I sincerely hope you enjoy it. You should have something as close to genuine Appalachian moonshine as can be had in Australia!

EDIT: When I stated that I strip the mash, I was technically incorrect in saying so. All I do is filter the corn/grain from the wash, and run the wash. Because I use a thump keg, I don't need to strip the wash by running the wash multiple times. The thump keg is charged with the tails(lower proof liquor from the tail end of previous runs) to simultaneously remove water and increase the alcohol content. If you don't use a thump keg, or something similar, you will need to strip the wash by making one or multiple runs through your still.

Please use the Traditional Appalachian Sweet Mash Corn Whiskey discussion thread if you would like to know more about this recipe. It can be found in the Recipe Development section of the Forum or by clicking HERE.
Last edited by The Stig on Wed Jul 15, 2020 12:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Posts: 118
Joined: Tue Apr 02, 2013 3:21 am
Location: Southwest Virginia, United States of America
equipment: 50 gallon (roughly 190L) copper pot still, with a 10 gallon (roughly 38L) thump keg, as well as a 20 gallon still with 5 gallon(roughly 19L) thump keg for small specialized runs, and experimentation.

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