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Moonshine For Beginners ft. Russell of MoonshineStillPro

Moonshine For Beginners ft. Russell of MoonshineStillPro

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Show Notes

Moonshine for beginners is this week’s Backyard Bounty podcast topic as we join Nicole as she talks with Russell of MoonshineStillPro.

What You’ll Learn

  • What other uses there are for a still
  • Federal and state laws to think about
  • Safety measures to consider
  • How to add flavor
  • Beginner mistakes, questions, and starting points

Our Guest

Russell is a Certified Bourbon Steward who became fascinated with fermentation and the art of distillation. As part of his journey to learn about distillation, he met with a local long-time Moonshiner. He taught him how to build his own still and make moonshine from common grocery store ingredients. He turned the skills and knowledge he gained into MoonshineStillPro to pass on his experience to other hobbyists interested in distillation.

MoonshineStillPro serves the hobby distillation community; hobbyists serving hobbyists. Their tribe are the backyard rebels and experimentalists who like to do things their own way and aren’t afraid to try something different. They are a small family-owned business that loves sharing their passions with their tribe.

MoonshineStillPro products are either modeled after or are the same products used by the craft distilling industry. Their stills are a combination of stainless steel and copper, using custom-made copper parts in all the right places! They use the same suppliers that are used by the craft distillation industry and it’s likely that their grain is the same grain in that bottle of craft bourbon you have in your home bar! They have created the connections to bring the same high-quality products to hobbyists that are used by the craft distilling industry.

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Resources & Links Mentioned

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Transcript

Announcer: 0:01

Welcome to the Backyard Bounty podcast from HeritageAcresMarket.com, where we aim to educate and inspire you by sharing practical information to help your homestead thrive. And now, here's your host, Nicole.

Nicole 0:17

Hello, everyone. And thank you so much for joining me for another episode of Backyard Bounty. I'm your host Nicole, and today I'm joined by Russell with MoonshineStillPro and today we are going to talk about distilling home brews and different uses for a still so Russell, thank you so much for joining me today.

Russell 0:34

Thanks, Nicole, for having me. I'm excited to be here with you.

Nicole 0:37

Absolutely. I'm excited to talk to you, you know, this is... I feel like distillation and moonshine, if you will, is kind of that, you know, scary area that people have a lot of questions about, but also because of that, a lot of curiosity. So I think it'd be fun to talk about distillation in general and some of the things that we could do with a still. But before we get into that, can you kind of give us a little background, how you got into this and what your background is?

Russell 1:08

Yeah, so I probably have a little bit of a different story as to how I got into distillation. It was curiosity. And so I had actually gone through a major health crisis. And while I was in recovery, I got fascinated with the idea of fermentation because fermentation is so healing for the body. There's lots of things that you can make: kimchi, sauerkraut, all these things that really are healing properties for the body. And so I went down the rabbit trail, and up in the place of distillation, that was doing all the fruits and the vegetables and all those things. And then I got to the grains. And really distillation is just fermenting grains, and then making something from that I'm not much of a beer drinker. And so I went straight to the whiskey side of that process.

Nicole 1:55

Sure.

Russell 1:55

As I was learning, I learned about the art of distillation, how to do distillation, and learned quickly that I needed a still to do anything. The fermentation part's generally pretty easy. You get sugars and yeast together and magic happens.

Nicole 2:10

Right.

Russell 2:11

Right. That's fermentation in some sort of simplified version. But to turn it into a spirit requires some equipment. And it's really some, it's an easy science, I'm fascinated with the science too, so being a science, nerdy math kind of geeky guy, that's what appealed to me. So I went on a journey to find a still and ran into a local guy who was an old time moonshiner. And he taught me how to build my own still, which is really part of the tradition, tradition of moonshiners who build their own stills, and then they make their own moonshine. And I found that for me, really, I'm much better at building the stills than taking my chance with the moonshine. But I like the high end whiskey, which takes a long time to get to. So I decided I would help others get started on their journey. And I build stills here in my backyard and share those with the world. And we run a family business to help hobbyists who are looking to do their own distillation in their own backyards, to empower them to do that.

Nicole 3:20

So what are some of the components of still, you know, you mentioned making your own what are some kind of important factors when looking at is still to get started, I guess?

Russell 3:31

So there's all kinds of complicated apparatuses on out there in the marketplace. And if you were to do a distillery tour, you're going to get overwhelmed with all these big things that are there. But the science is really simple. All you need for creating the distillation process is first of all a pot, where you can heat up your what they call a wash, which is your fermented liquids, and grains, what you're trying to do is you're turning that into vapor, and the science behind it is that alcohol vaporizes much faster at a lower temperature than water. Okay, so you heat it up to under boiling around 172. And that will allow the alcohol vapor to rise. So you need a column to catch the vapor. And then you need a condenser, which is an apparatus that's used to cool the vapor back down, which then turns it back into a liquid. And that liquid has a high alcohol content. It's really very simple, right? You heat up a pot, you turn it into vapor, and then you cool it back down. So those are the the main components of what you need is some sort of pot and there's some things you need to watch out for and be careful of. You need a column with copper in it to interact with the alcohol vapor. And then you need what's called a condenser to cool it back down and there are multiple ways condensers are configured.

Nicole 4:59

So what does the copper, you said that it interacts with the alcohol? What exactly does it do?

Russell 5:04

Yeah, so there's a property in the copper that binds with the sulfides that are in the alcohol vapor. So if you were to just use a completely stainless steel still, but you can find those. And those are great for creating essential oils, and maybe purifying your water and doing other things. But if you're really trying to create spirits, you need copper in the process. Because the copper binds with the sulfides, and takes that sulfuric taste out of it, then it's just the magic of chemistry, that this happens. So copper is a very important part, there's a couple ways to go about it. A lot of stills are made with the copper tubing to create that interaction. There are also stills that have a stainless steel tube, and then you stuffed it with copper mesh to get the same interaction. But it's an important part of the chemical process.

Nicole 5:56

And I imagined that the second one is a little bit more affordable.

Russell 5:59

It's a different setup. So you're often replacing the copper mesh and it gets dirty. And so there's an additional cost involved in maintaining that. So if you were to buy just a stainless still, it would actually be cheaper, because stainless steel is cheaper than copper.

Nicole 6:15

Sure.

Russell 6:15

But if you buy an all copper still, it would cost a bit more. So you can go really thin on your copper to try and save cost. But that will wear out over time. Or you can go all stainless steel and stuff it with copper mesh, which can be messy, and you got to clean it up all the time. Or you can do what we've done, we take a hybrid approach. So we put the stainless steel where you don't need the copper. And we put the copper where you need the copper. So it's kind of the best of both.

Nicole 6:43

Oh, okay.

Russell 6:44

And actually, if you were to go to any craft distillery and go in and do a tour, you'll notice most of their pots stills, we build pot stills, their pot stills have a stainless steel pot, it's this big tube, you know, big ol pot, and they've got spinners and turners in there and all kinds of mechanisms going on. And you don't need all that. But they use that because they're doing it commercially. And then the copper will just be in the column. So you can reduce your costs quite a bit.

Nicole 7:12

Okay, so it's more so the alcohol vapor, not so much the alcohol in one end or the other of the condenser I believe it was that is where the copper is necessary.

Russell 7:22

Yeah, absolutely, that the pot is not necessary to be copper. The condenser generally is copper. And if we look at an old school, still, you'll have what's called a copper worm. So it's all this spiraled up copper, they then pour water over it or put ice over it or something to create that condensation. So you need a lot of copper in that part of the process. But you can use then tubing copper, which is which is not that expensive.

Nicole 7:52

So I guess that that kind of leads itself into one of the big questions of is this legal? Is it legal, because, you know, we all hear that moonshine is is not legal. So tell me about that.

Russell 8:08

Yeah, well, since prohibition days, it's been illegal.

Nicole 8:11

Gotcha.

Russell 8:12

And then federally, it is illegal to make your own spirits without a license. So you can approach a process of doing it legally. Especially if you're on a farm, you can get a license for making spirits. However, it's still not for spirits that you can drink, it's for spirits to run machinery. Like high ethanol, kind of activity.

Nicole 8:34

Oh, okay.

Russell 8:34

So yeah, the reality is federally making your own spirits is illegal. So everything we talk about today is for educational purposes.

Nicole 8:43

Disclaimer!

Russell 8:44

However, we all know... you're in Colorado, right?

Yeah, I know where you are going. So you know, we all know that marijuana is illegal federally. And so there are some states that have put some laws in place around moonshine that make it legal on a state basis, even though it's illegal on a federal basis. So Missouri, where I'm at is one of those states. In Missouri, there's a law and the state statutes that allows an individual to make up to 100 gallons of spirits a year.

Oh, my goodness.

And up to 200 in a household. I mean, that's a lot.

Nicole 9:21

My goodness.

Russell 9:22

Yeah, that's a whole lot. And it was because we have a large farming population. And the farming lobby was able to get that in because they are taking things like the fruits and turning them into brandies to store them more. This is the tradition. Back in the 1700's, this is what farmers did. They would take their grains, they would take their fruits, they would turn them into a spirit because it was much more valuable. And so those things that they couldn't sell right away on the open market because of the grain that was needed. They would run a still and turn it into another commodity that then they could sell and transport easier, right?

Nicole 9:58

Sure.

Russell 9:59

How much easier is to transport a jar of moonshine, or or a 50 pound bag of corn, which would you rather take to market? Which would your horse rather carry to market?

Nicole 10:10

But in some cases, the corn might last longer. Depending... Yeah, so maybe, right. So we kind of talked a little bit about the still itself. And kind of the process of it is the process of distillation, dangerous?

Russell 10:27

It can become dangerous in a couple of ways, right? So you've probably heard rumors of stills blowing up, and people going blind drinking moonshine. A lot of that comes from doing things, I usually don't like to use this word, but just being stupid, right, if you don't follow some common safety precautions. So when you're heating up things, if we all studied our science, right, when you heat something up, it increases the pressure. So you need a way to release that pressure. So if you have a still that is completely closed, then yeah, you can create a scenario where you have a potential for explosion, there's a couple things that you can do to protect yourself from that. One is you creating breakaway points, you're still. And so a lot of these old time heritage stills, they're just all copper, they look like a little tube, and then they have a thing that sits on top and then another tube that comes off, that's called their head or a cap. And those two things sit together, and moonshiners would take a flour paste and close up that seal. So that if the pressure ever got too much, boom, it would break right and release the pressure instead of exploding. So our stills, the ones that we make are an open system. So there's always a half inch diameter, copper tubing that goes through as long as you're distilling without the grain. So you can get grain particles that would get up in your tube and block it off. If you're pulling all that out, which is good practice and just distilling the wash, the liquid, that reduces that potential dramatically. And then we have obviously we have some breakaway points in our stills. One product that we we do sell that's kind of unique is because there's a lot of these heritage stills on the marketplace. And they use this breakaway point where people are using flour paste. It's messy, it takes a lot of time to clean it up. So we invented a rubber gasket that can actually fit over those and make that process super simple. without all the cleanup, and still has that breakaway potential keep it safe.

Nicole 12:40

And that's compatible with stills other than your own or?

Russell 12:44

Yes, yeah.

Nicole 12:45

Okay, awesome.

Russell 12:46

Actually, we sell them for other stills not around. And for people that are building their own. We use some of them in our stills, because we put stills together to use two inch copper pipe. And so instead of soldering that pipe together in some joints, it's a good idea to have a breakaway point. So we have a little two inch sleeve that we can put in there and create those for some of our larger stills

Nicole 13:09

Always good to have safety.

Russell 13:11

The other thing we were talking about, you're asking about danger. The other thing is the rumor about going blind. So a lot of that comes from some bad practices historically, where individuals were distilling of substances that would leach and add some things to your spirit that were dangerous. So for example, aluminum is a product that will leach into your spirits. So when you're talking about building your own still, you want to make sure you're using stainless steel, not some sort of aluminum pot to make your pot.

Nicole 13:47

Gotcha.

Russell 13:49

And then people would use almost anything they could find so like old radiators, that was a bad idea in the first place. All that stuff in there. And part of that rumor came from prohibition days where our government actually poisoned spirits and set them up for people to steal them. And it caused some problems. So there's a lot of controversy around that. But yeah, that's it. So if you're using proper equipment, and playing it safe, it's a safe hobby. The one thing when you are creating spirits, you always have to remember is that the first vapors that are coming off your still are the ones that are more dangerous to the human body. The more and methanes and the wood alcohols and those things and so you want to throw that stuff away. Okay, so the first few ounces for ounces, we they also four to eight ounces, depending on the size of your still. They're called the fore shots. That stuff is poison. What I like to do with it as I like to use it for cleaner.

Nicole 14:51

Oh, there you go.

Russell 14:52

Stripper. I take a jar. I don't want to throw it out. I use it and it's not rubbing alcohol but it's, you know, it's alcoholic, and you can use it for cleanings, things.

Nicole 15:04

Sure. Almost like turpentine, maybe?

Russell 15:06

Yeah.

Nicole 15:08

Interesting. So maybe then we could talk about the general process how to get started, I suppose. Other than a still, what do you need to get started? And I guess that that would probably be determining what it is that you're wanting to make.

Russell 15:23

Yes, let's talk about those separately, right. Because to get started to make spirits, you need ta still, that's the, that's the core thing you need. You will need something to ferment your your grains and, and a five gallon bucket a seven gallon foodsafe bucket is all you need, you can do it right in there. So the process is you're going to basically heat up your water and grains. To break down the starches in them, you're going to add some chemicals, that's one way to go about it, alpha amylase, which helps break apart the starches and turns them into sugar or you can use malt, that will actually do it naturally. And so you're gonna heat that up and add the yeast once it's cooled down and let it sit for a while. So you need a container, where you can let it sit. Seven gallon bucket, a five gallon bucket is all you really need. So that part's easy, he wants some measuring equipment to understand what the alcohol potential is, or hydrometer, an alcholometer. These are simple scientific instruments that you can use to monitor what's going on. And a test tube to put those in, and then you need your still and a jar, you want a glass jar to collect the output. You want to not, don't put it in plastic, don't put it you know, in aluminum, or anything like that. So a stainless steel container. Traditionally, it's a glass mason jar, right, that's what you'll capture your your distillate in. So it's actually pretty simple. The still itself, it doesn't matter what you're trying to make, you can make any spirit of this still, what matters is where you start. So what I mean by that is, if you're trying to make whiskey, whiskey is just grains, grains, fermented grains, you have all kinds of options. If you're trying to make the bourbon, you need to be corn heavy. So corn and bourbon is 51%, corn, and then your grains. If you're trying to make vodka, well, that just means you have to distill it a lot more.

Nicole 17:21

Really?

Russell 17:22

It's the same stuff, you start in the same place. You just you distill it again and again and again, until you get the proof really high and the alcohol and it's mostly alcohol. And now you have vodka, because basically you're taking all the flavor out most of the, that's what's happening, so that you can flavor it however you want. That's the crazy thing, right? How can we make it less flavor so that we can make it flavored a lot,.

Nicole 17:46

Right.

Russell 17:46

Because the thing that makes bourbon, so fantastic is not the alcohol, it's all the stuff that's carried along with the alcohol, you bring the grain flavors with it. And that's where the sweetness from the corn, and if you're mixing in rye, it gives spice or if you're mixing in wheat, because that doughy bready flavor. It's the extra that you keep with the alcohol that actually brings flavor to your spirits. So yeah, it's what you start with.

Nicole 18:14

And I imagine that this isn't directly related, but you could get really creative and make your own particular mix of whatever once you get comfortable with it to which I think would be fun.

Russell 18:24

Yeah, that's in fact, that's what I like to encourage because it is a creative art. And if you look at these craft distilleries, that's what they're doing. They're exploring all the different kinds of grains. How do they impact the flavor. Have you ever heard of Quinoa being used in making spirits, and buckwheat and all these other grains? Right now the big move that I'm seeing in the craft distillery marketplace is this movement towards heirloom grains, and trying heirloom corns, and what flavor profile did they actually provide? And so one of the things that we've done at Moonshine Still Pro is we have partnered with some of the farmers and millers that actually provide these grains, to distilleries so that our hobbyists you know, have access to things like Bloody Butcher Red Corn. Like where else you're gonna find that?

Nicole 19:15

Yeah.

Russell 19:15

You got to get it from the farmers who are growing these heirloom grains.

That's awesome.

Usually they're supplying them to the distilleries and large quantities and and we partnered with them to make smaller options available to our customers.

Nicole 19:29

My brains totally going in the opposite direction here and and just the, creative side to it. I think that especially since you kind of sell the the ingredients and then you can make your own and yeah, I could definitely see how it could become really addicting I guess, the process of it and really fascinating and fun and interesting and all that.

Russell 19:52

Yeah, I mean, that's, that's part of it, right? A lot of people love it for the creativity and just the fact of creation and that you're creating new things. And the hobby of it is something that you can always be learning from. And so it's that part that keeps your brain active as well as you're trying to learn. And one thing that I've found, for me that I really enjoy is that the art of distillation, it's slow, it takes time. And so it forces you to slow down and enjoy some things, right? We get so busy in this world going and going and going. And those moments when you're watching this still, you got to watch this deal. And it takes hours, six to eight hours to run this still no, and it's just drip, drip, drip, drip, you need to watch it to make sure you're getting the temperature right, and, and that it is safe, right. And so you have to slow down and just enjoy the moment.

Nicole 20:48

Absolutely. I know that that's one of the things I really enjoy about beekeeping is, it's a similar thing, you know, you have to be so focused on what you're doing that it's almost like meditation, meditation and action, and I enjoy it. What's the kind of the average startup cost for something like this, if you weren't really sure if this was something that you wanted to do, and you just kind of wanted to start simple basics, you know, bare minimum, what's what does that look like?

Russell 21:14

So we sell stills that start around $270, I think is the starter still and it's a two and a half to three gallon still, it's perfect for on your stovetop, you can do it inside,.

Nicole 21:27

Oh.

Russell 21:28

Most products work with a five gallon wash. So if you had a five gallon bucket, which is super cheap, right $5-6 from Home Depot, in that you can get an orange bucket there. And your yeast packets work with a five gallon wash. So when you make a wash, you can use a smaller still and you'd actually have two batches, the two and a half gallons per match. So that's kind of a starter place. And that's actually an awesome still for just experimenting. Like you don't want to go all in on 1020 gallons for the first time you you're trying something new, you're throwing in a bunch of quinoa, you have no idea what it's like, right? Start small, see what it's like. So that's a good place to, to either start or to have an experimental still. And then our most popular stills run around the $450 mark, and they're a five gallon still. So they're really designed to work with that. You can run it on your stovetop, or you can get a turkey fryer and go outside, run it that way. And you want to make sure you have open air because you don't want alcohol vapor interacting with a flame.

Nicole 22:34

Sure.

Russell 22:35

So that's another danger we didn't talk about. But if you're an open air, right, it's it's not a risk.

Nicole 22:41

I imagine that that's a one time investment, there's probably not a whole lot of parts that need replaced, and it's something that would last a long time? I'm just assuming?

Russell 22:51

Yeah, it's they are long lasting. Occasionally you'll have to replace a gasket or something like that, that creates a seal. Right, those are $10, $20 parts every once in a while. So yeah, it's a it's a long lasting apparatus. You know, it's an appliance essentially, without any electrical or moving parts that are going to break on you.

Nicole 23:11

Right.

Russell 23:12

It's a simple process.

Nicole 23:14

Sure.

Russell 23:15

Yeah. So then from that point, your expenses are really your ingredients, your grains, your yeast, if you're using enzymes, those enzymes and mason jars, you're gonna have to invest in mason jars, lots of mason jars.

So a two and a half gallon still, what's your final product? You know, once it is distilled? Yeah, I get that question a lot. And it's a hard question to answer, exactly. Because it depends on so many things. Ideally, you're trying to get to a wash that's around 10 to 15% alcohol. So if you think about two and a half gallons, 10% of that, and then you've got to throw out a little bit on the front end, and the back end doesn't taste all that great. What you end up with on a two and a half gallon still is probably about a pint.

Nicole 24:03

So from start to finish, how long does the entire process take, you know, from from the time that you mix your initial grains to the finished product,

Russell 24:14

Right. So there's a lot of wait time involved in this you the first part is you've got to heat up your grains and break them down. So you're spending about, you know, again, it depends on how much volume because you got to heat up the water. And so depending on what you've got, but you know, probably a couple hours in that process of just cooking the grains, and then it's a matter of waiting while the yeast does its work. So that can be three to seven days depending on where you live and temperature and those sort of things that will interact. But there isn't a lot for you to do then other than shake up the wash every once in a while to stir it up and get it some oxygen so that your yeast doesn't die off quickly. Then the actual distillation process is usually around a six to eight hour process. So like I mentioned before, it's slow going. You can do it faster. And a lot of times, moonshiners will do it fast. And they do what's called a stripping run. So they're just trying to get as much alcohol out as they can and the first run, and then they go back and do it again. And that time they do it slower, which would be another six to eight hours. But I've found that if you do it slow the first time, it's usually pretty good. And you don't have to necessarily go through the stripping and then running again.

Nicole 25:33

So with that stripping process, or like you were talking about with vodka, then do you then literally take the distilled product and run it through the still, again?

Russell 25:44

Yes, you would, you would, you would keep it, everything, instead of really partitioning out the parts that you want to keep. And you would run it through again, and you'd probably, because you're gonna end up with less volume, you'd probably want to have another run that you're doing so that you can combine the two.

Nicole 26:01

Oh, sure.

Russell 26:02

But what you're essentially doing is refining that process. So you get more and more of the alcohol out, and less and less of the impurities that gets pulled along with them.

Nicole 26:15

And so the process of making the grain mix of you know, whatever it is that you're making, how do you go about finding the right ratios? And how much yeast and how much sugar? Is that information easily available? Or is that something that's hard to find, or...

Russell 26:32

There's a lot of information on the internet these days, we have information on our website, as well, we provide a guide for when someone buys is still that's sort of a, "Here's some recipes you can use to get started". These days, there's tons of books out there, too. So home distilling books, get on Amazon and $15 later, and two days later, you'll have a book on the art of distillation. And it'll have tons of recipes.

Nicole 27:01

Despite the legality, the information is not terribly difficult to find?

Russell 27:05

These days, no, it's everywhere. It's pretty prominent. We're in a whiskey mood again. And so everyone's interested in this. And yes, I'm pretty sure that wherever you are, you have a neighbor pretty close by that has a still and is making some moonshine. It's pretty common, even though it's done in the sheds, in the backyards, and in the in the garages and out of sight,

Nicole 27:30

More reasons to make friends with your neighbors.

Russell 27:34

Yes, one thing I will caution, because this is when the government gets really uptight, is if you were to go out and try and sell your moonshine. This is for personal consumption only personal, personal use only. That's when they get, they get unhappy.

Nicole 27:51

Got it.

Russell 27:52

So, if you're out there trying to do that. So it is something that gives you're going to do this, at that I encourage it because we're here for educational purposes.

Nicole 27:59

Yeah, of course.

Russell 28:00

Right? That you would want to do, you know, be discreet?

Nicole 28:06

Sure, sure. So what is the easiest thing for beginners to make? Like, what's a good first thing to try?

Russell 28:16

So really, I point people into into different directions, depending on what they like. So a sugar shine is super easy. It's just basically sugar and water, right, and maybe some, add some corn meal to give some corn flavor to it. And that's an easy place to start. The hardest part of the process of distillation is converting your grains into sugars, so that your yeast can turn those into something into the alcohol. So if you start with sugar in the first place, you cut out that complicated part of the process. And so that's a great place. And that's what a lot of moonshiners that's what they're doing is they're they're making sugar shine. Another approach is to make rum. Rum starts with sugar. That's the starting point, usually in the form of molasses. That's what gives it that that dark, rich, sweet flavor. So you can go to the grocery store, and you can get dark sugar, you know brown sugar that's made with molasses. And that can be an easy starting point to make a a brown sugar rum.

Nicole 29:23

Interesting. And so what are some common beginner mistakes or maybe beginner questions that you get asked frequently?

Russell 29:31

Yeah, so we've actually touched on a lot of them, right? Is it safe? Is it legal? What are my grains, what do I use? So the thing I would add is just keep notes about what you're doing. And take records. That's how you've learn, that's how you improve the process as you keep track of what you did. And then try something else next time. Whatever you didn't like. Adjust some of that.

Nicole 30:00

And I assume then too, if you make something you really like, then you know how to make it again. And it'd be terrible if that's your recipe.

Russell 30:06

Yes. Yes.

Nicole 30:09

So you I know you touched on it a little bit. But what are the different things that you can make with a still? You mentioned, you don't purify water and essential oils, but you know, is there some maybe more obscure or more advanced things that you can do with this still after you get comfortable with it?

Russell 30:25

Yeah, so we did talk about purifying water, essential oils, there's a lot that you can learn about with essential oils. And there's different techniques, that's a pretty complicated and can get pretty complicated with what you're trying to create from the essential oils. From the spirit side, there's more ways you can go about trying to experiment with different grains and spirits. In fact, you can even go into the place of only of sprouting your own grains. So some of that can get very complicated. And I would caution any beginner to start there without doing significant research, because some of that can get into the realm of creating things that are dangerous. But if you're sticking with the basics, you know, you're using corn, you're using sugars, you're using grains and malts that have already been malted for you, it's an easy process. But yet, you can go in and create some some very complicated things, and work the whole process from start to finish. You know, if you get into the hobby and want to do that, then the other thing is, stills are used a lot for making ethanol to run machinery. Right? That's...

Nicole 31:36

Which is why we have them to begin with, right?

Russell 31:39

Yes, exactly. And to purify the water, yes. If you live out in a place where they can, that's why we we do it.

Nicole 31:47

For you know, you never know if if there's a fuel shortage or something, then I suppose you could make your own for your tractor, whatever it may be.

Russell 31:56

This is why preppers will have them.

Nicole 31:58

Sure.

Unknown Speaker 31:59

Those two reasons why: to sanitize water, and to make fuel.

Nicole 32:05

So I'm kind of going back to the spirits. Is there any grains that you know of offhand that are just you know, you shouldn't use them whatsoever?

Russell 32:15

I know that it can be dangerous to try and sprout your own wheat. And to malt your own wheat. That's a complicated process. So that's one I would caution. But using wheat in your spirit is actually a pretty common practice. So it's just that trying to malt it can get dangerous.

Nicole 32:35

Okay. And then another question I had with the stills. Can you use the same still to make all of these different things that we've talked about? Or are there different styles? Or if you've used this still to make one thing, you shouldn't use it to make something else?

Russell 32:51

So yes, yes. And yes. And,, not necessarily, and not necessarily.

Nicole 32:55

Sure.

Russell 32:55

So there are a bunch of different styles of stills, and people will claim that one still makes a better spirit than the other. The reality is that you can make any spirit on your style. And we sell simple pot stills, there are much more complicated stills, column stills, continuous stills. So ultimately, they get to the same place. And as a hobbyist, the subtleties that can come out and those is unlikely to take place in that hobby realm with the small quantities that would be doing, if you're doing it commercially, with large quantities, yes, those things are going to make a difference. If you are making a particular spirit, you're still can take on some notes of that over time. So if you're jumping around, or you want to have a dedicated steel for a particular spirit, I mean, that's not a bad idea. But it's not a necessary thing, either. So you if you go into craft distilleries, you'll often find that they have a gin still, and they have a whiskey still, because you might start to care, pick up some of those notes. They don't really want to cross into their products. But as a hobbyist, you know, that could be cool. Who else is going to have that kind of flavor profile? It's really a personal preference. Do you need it? No. Could it make a difference? Sure.

Nicole 34:14

That makes sense. Do you have any other wisdom key takeaways, suggestions, advice? Otherwise, for folks that are looking to maybe dabble in distillation?

Russell 34:25

My advice would be read as much as you can learn as much as you can, and then recognize that what you're going for is what you like, it doesn't have to be a particular way. There's so many whiskies on the shelf these days, because we're all unique, and we have our own different tastes, right?

Nicole 34:41

Sure.

Russell 34:42

So it's about finding the things that you like and the things you like, and want to share with others. So I would encourage some experimentation and feeling a little freedom in testing some things, understand the basics, understand the parameters and what you need to work with, to stay safe, and then try a few things.

Nicole 35:01

Awesome. Well, it sounds like after talking to you, it has its particularities, but it's not necessarily as scary and dangerous as maybe it's it's been made out to be.

Unknown Speaker 35:14

Yeah, let me give one more piece of advice, too. And it's like any hobby, you get better as you practice it, right? So the first few times, you're probably going to go, "Oh, my gosh, what do I got myself into?", this is... you make some high proof moonshine, it's burning your, your nostrils and everything. We all start there. And that's okay. It's that you keep trying, and you learn and you experiment. And so that that's where you start to perfect your craft and really get to learn and know what you what you like.

Nicole 35:44

Sure. Don't get discouraged. It's easy to do. But lots of things there's always learning.

Russell 35:52

Yeah.

Nicole 35:53

So you mentioned that you have some resources on your website. And of course, you have the stills available there as well. Can you share those resources with us and where we can find more?

Russell 36:02

Yeah, so the website is MoonshineStillPro.com. I know it's a mouthful. It's all one word together, MoonshineStillPro.com. You can also find us on Instagram, and Facebook, those same things, MoonshineStillPro on both of those. And then our resource library, really, within our website, there's a link that can take you to all the articles that we have on recipes and some creative ideas and how you can make some spirits and just some interesting articles.

Nicole 36:34

Okay, great. And of course, we'll put all those in the show notes so that folks can find them easily. And Russell, thank you so much. I really appreciate your time today. This was really a fascinating topic, and I really enjoyed diving into it with you.

Russell 36:47

Thank you, Nicole. I appreciate the opportunity to be here and enjoyed this time to share.

Nicole 36:52

Good, absolutely. And for those listening, thank you so much for joining me for another episode and we'll see you again next week.

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