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Modern Moonshine

Homemade whiskey is still illegal in all 50 states and most countries, but the craft is making a comeback. This time around, it’s a geek hobby instead of a moneymaking venture, with a focus on quality as opposed to quantity.
"It took me years, but with practice and dedication you can make any spirit every bit as good as a commercial distiller," says Dave Robison, 42, owner of Pioneer Spirits, a single-batch distillery in Chico, California. "You might not be able to reproduce it exactly, but it will be as good as anything you can buy on the top shelf."

Anyone who wants to try distilling is cautioned to do their homework first.
After all, he says, "This ain't stamp collecting."

Wired has an overview of the hobby, with links to sites and forums for home distillers. http://www.wired.com/culture/lifestyle/news/2008/05/modern_moonshine

(image credit: unprose)

Umm,
Abit off there...
It is illegal to SELL moonshine.
In many states you can MAKE your own, for personal USE..
But, Building a Still. is dangerous and they WONT LET YOU.
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ECA:

Under U.S. law, it is completely illegal to distill spirits of any kind. You can however, freely create any kind of distillery you want, as long as it is used for some other task, e.g. water purification
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In some states it's perfectly legal to make beer or wine. When we lived in Washington State, making beer was the thing to do. We tried all different recipes, and frankly, I wasn't too crazy about any of it. then my husband decided to add yeast to grape juice. He capped the bottles as he did the beer bottles. The exploded sequentially while he was at work. Fortunately no one was in the room, as glass and fermented grape juice flew everywhere.
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Plains..
You can make your OWN alcohol upto 200 gallons per year..In most states. Personal USE.
Its the STILL thats illegal.

Barb,
there are some great recipes on the net, NOW..
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Be very careful with moonshine. Most of it has a high lead content because of the cheap soldering jobs used in bush-league distillery constuction. It will not make you blind like it did in the old days, but it WILL give you lead poisoning.
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Stop spreading that crap in unrelated threads. He misspoke, plain and simple. You want to debate politics in a political thread that's fine, but you bring out your sorry youtube video every chance you get. Get a life and start basing politics on something better than a 10 second sound bite.
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Stop whining. Neatorama puts politics on the front page now, courtesy of Stanhope. Once a blog starts down that road, it's hard to stop.

And this isn't the first time Obama has "misspoken". In fact, he messes up every single time he says something without a teleprompter. He's worse than Bush.

Only we'll never get a "funny video" of Obama's gaffes posted on Neatorama. This blog is turning into a one-sided political promotion, like Boing Boing.
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Distillation is not that difficult. You can do it very safely using refrigeration, relying on the fact that alcohol freezes at a much lower temperature than water. Freeze distillation also retains much more of the fermentation characteristics of the original drink than fractional distillation. It's just as illegal, under federal law, mind you, so don't talking indiscriminately about it. It's difficult to produce anything stronger than 25 or 30% alcohol using freeze distillation, but it's my favorite method because it requires less aging and retains many of the flavor components that are lost in fractional distilling (I'm a homebrewer--I like keeping hop and yeast character).

Fractional distillation can be done fairly easily with a pressure cooker and some copper tubing (running off the cooker and through an ice bath). You just have to be careful to discard the heads and tails. And the product that comes out is raw and needs to be aged a few months or a few years, to develop some complexity. Age it in good wood to add that complexity. You can buy seasoned casks from wineries and distilleries without too much problem.

Again, be careful who you talk to about the stuff you make. The penalties are stiff: up to 5 years and $10,000 fine per count for each offense, plus the IRS can hit you up for excise taxes unpaid on the production (see 26 U.S.C 5002 and 560l).

Also, can people cut the political crap here? I'm as much a political junkie as anyone, but I leave it behind on the political blogs. This blog is for fun stuff, regardless of your affiliation.
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Barbwire, making beer and wine for yourself is perfectly legal (as long as you don't SELL it).
Moonshine has a much higher alcohol content (think everclear, sometimes higher).
Though I'm not so sure lead poisoning is as much of a problem anymore unless you're using an antique still.
So, the lesson here is: if your 9 year old cousin asks your 47 year old cousin for some of the water he's drinkin' from a mason jar, you'll find yourself in the interesting position of explaining moonshine to a 9 year-old because the phrase "Fire-water" only makes them want it more.
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Actually, the reports on lead poisoning are based on the product that is currently available in Virginia. Unless you know the source and know it does not contain lead, then do not drink it.
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i've had great luck in freezing home made wine, and then turning the bottle upside down (while still in the freezer) and letting all the non frozen stuff drip out into another bottle. The stuff is great, really sweet and strong.
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Please people. Get your facts straight. Stop spreading misinformation about "things you have heard". First, there is nothing illegal about manufacturing your own moonshine for personal use. Unless you are selling it, with the elimination of prohibition, making alcoholic beverages for personal consumption is perfectly legal in most places in the US.

Second, moonshine is not inherently more poisonous than any other type of booze you buy from the liquor store. In the old days, moonshiners used to add other components (often methanol or other poisons) to save money (akin to cutting drugs with poisons) which led to the legend that moonshine will make you go blind. If you do straight fermentation-distillation, you will end up with a product that is just as safe as what you buy anywhere else.

Hopefully, this clears up the "old wive's tales", courtesy of those who believe dogs have cleaner mouths than humans, machines guns and silencers are illegal, and you'll catch a cold if you go outside with wet hair. :-)
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And speaking of truth. Vote for Barack Obama at your own peril. Considering his assault on the second amendment, his comments about guns and religion, and his belief in Black Liberation theology, this man really scares me. Vote for him at your own peril.
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C12H22O11+H2O=4C2H5OH+4CO2 old formula as world itself.
I used to produce moonshine in great deal quantities during Gorbachev era. Nooooobody died or got poisoned by my poduct. All I read in this forum is just dillusion of the very little educated people especially in organic chemistry. Drunkers in Russia die due by drinking spirit made by wood(dry) crecking of wood chips....
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