With legal home distilling on the horizon, I thought a few tips on how to improve your Home made Spirits drinkability were in order.
Start with a good recipe: My mantra is, “Garbage in garbage out”. You can’t take something that is vile and turn it into something amazing.
Believe it or not, learning how to cook and I mean real cooking not plop a can of something in a dish and microwave it. Cooking involves following a recipe, whether it is your own or someone else’s. Knowing how ingredients work together is prime in making tasty things to eat and drink or you can learn to brew beer, which has many of the same attributes as cooking with the bonus of teaching you how to ferment and to be sanitary as well.
Quality equipment: The better the equipment the easier it is to do the job. The easiest way to start is to buy your still (look online). You can make your own but be aware of the dangers of using certain materials in constructing your still.
Barrel ageing: For certain Spirits, it’s in the barrel. Not all Spirits are aged in barrels. Those that are traditionally barrel aged need not be if you don’t want. The barrel ageing gives it color, additional flavor and smoothness.
Love and care: Like a flower, with a bit of love and care you can make some delicious Spirits. It’s about paying attention to the details.
Filtering Media: Yes; it’s true that you can take bottom shelf vodka and make it smoother by running it through a charcoal filter; however, it would be extremely hard to make it into a silky-smooth sipping Vodka. Not to mention the time commitment involved.
Education: Take a distilling class and read read read. There is a lot of information out there about fermentation and distilling. Check on the internet, go to the library (it’s a big building full of books you can borrow for free. Most towns have one) and there are classes available. There are also quite a few distilleries out there that you can ask questions to. If available, take the tour and ask questions. My suggestion is to read and learn as much as you can then you can go to your local distillery and ask pertinent questions. If you go in knowing nothing then you risk wasting everyone’s time.
Short Cut: To get a jump start on your distilling you can always buy a couple bottles of wine or cider (non-hard cider will need to be fermented first) and distill it. This will allow you to learn the basics and experiment without the added cost of fermentation equipment.
Note: Do not try to use beer as a short cut. Beer has hops in it, which is a bittering agent, and your finished product will be bitter because the hops oil is very volatile and comes over throughout the distillation process.
Welcome to the wonderful world of Distilling. Cheers!