View Full Version : How to make Bourbon?

06-24-2001, 03:43
I have been looking on the net to try and find some sort of guide to explain how to make your own bourbon. I was wondering if anyone knows of any sites that have instructions how to do it. I'm very interested, please email me at trismunky@hotmail.com


06-24-2001, 13:59
To "make bourbon" is a pretty daunting task. Aside from all the technical challenges, in the USA it is extremely illegal to distill beverage alcohol without a license.

Putting the legal barriers aside, the biggest drawback is time. True bourbon must age in the barrel for four years or more. For a hobbiest, that's a long time to wait to see if your experiment is successful.

Aging is an essential part of bourbon, but you could (again, legal barriers aside) make other kinds of spirits more quickly. Unaged brandies, known as eau de vie, seem to be the beverage of choice for small scale distilling. One small distiller is California is making a schnapps by distilling a pale ale. This would be distinguished from a whiskey by the use of hops and the lack of aging.

Another option is to make ersatz bourbon, which is done by adding flavorings to grain neutral spirits. Why anyone would want to go to the trouble is beyond me, but lots of hobbies are difficult to rationalize for non-practitioners.

The provision of an email address suggests that the inquirer won't be returning here for his answer (bad discussion board form, by the way), but maybe someone else will benefit from the answer.

--Chuck Cowdery (http://cowdery.home.netcom.com)

06-24-2001, 15:54
> Another option is to make ersatz bourbon, which is done by adding flavorings
> to grain neutral spirits.

This reminds me of something I've always wanted to try, but haven't gotten
around to as of yet. I'd like to chop up a few barrel staves so that they'll
fit inside mason jars. Re-char some of 'em, leave others basically as is, but
shave 'em a bit to clean up the part that was the outside of the barrel.
Now seal them in mason jars, some jars with Georgia Moon, some jars with
straight ethanol. Let 'em sit and see what happens. Perhaps run a couple
through temperature cycles for fun.

It'll be interesting to see what happens.

06-24-2001, 16:29

The hard work has been done for you - check out World Cooperage, at www.cooperage.com for toasted and charred oak chips and other barrel alternatives. Home wine-makers have been using these for flavoring for some time. Of course, you can also buy barrels from them if you've got a LOT of Georgia Moon on hand, or if you want to make a run to Linn's house (he'll be out back without pants on, exploring the archaeological and primal origins of the whiskey experience - he says he has a white dog out there or something, so be careful). Or you could swing up to the Monongahela River valley. Maybe you might find something there for your experiment. Smile a lot if you're going back up in the ravines.

Ralph Wilps

06-24-2001, 17:24
Hi Ralph.

Thanks for the URL. I'd run across that cooperage page before, and was quite
amused by their "barrel renewal system", but I didn't keep the URL. As for
raw materials, I figure that if I grab the Georgia Moon all from the same case,
then it's probably all the same mashbill, proof, etc. Plus, it already comes
in a mason jar! And if I ever want to repeat the experiment, or if it turns
out well and I recommend it to others, then I've used easy-to-obtain materials.

I am rather curious about entire-barrel experiments. 200 proof EtOH is about
$10 per gallon, so filling a 53 gallon barrel with 50/50 EtOH/water would take
about $288 worth of ethanol. I'd like to know what taste you get from
ethanol + water + wood + time, but I'm certainly not $300+ curious. I'm
sure that there's a distillery out there that's tried it, but getting
my lips on the result is a little beyond my powers right now. Plus,
it's fun to play at home, and if I find a good recipe, then everyone
can make Timmy's Talahassee Tea (okay, it needs a better name...).

I'd absolutely love to set up something along the lines of Master
Distiller's Vaults, a huge secret stash with all the answers to
"I wonder what happens if you try this...". It would be open free
of charge to StraightBourbonians, of course, and also to anyone
who donates samples.

By the way, does anyone know the mashbill of Georgia Moon? Is it constant,
or does Heaven Hill just bottle whatever's running at the time?


06-24-2001, 17:43
Chuck that is exactly why I buy bourbon rather than do it myself. Besides the expense of barrels and the waiting the fact is that the resultant bourbon would be very crude and quite rough. Hell the stuff on the bottom shelf is crude and rough enough as it is. Why bother to make something worse?

Linn Spencer

Have Shotglass. Will Travel.

06-24-2001, 17:46
WOOF! Hey we could just cook off a batch of straight corn and put it in used barrels.

Linn Spencer

Have Shotglass. Will Travel.

06-24-2001, 17:46
Oh, and speaking of home squeezins, has anyone heard anything more about
Kenny May's Conecuh Reserve?
original WSJ article at:
with a follow up story at:

Or anything about the West Virginia Distilling Co.'s Mountain Moonshine?

AP article available, among other places, at


06-25-2001, 08:26
Georgia Moon is supposed to be almost all corn, with little or no rye, which is not quite the same as white dog bourbon. I use it to give people a rough idea what white dog tastes like, but it isn't exactly the same. If you "age" it (e.g., with wood chips) what you'll have is aged corn, not bourbon. If you "age" grain neutral spirit you'll get even less, since the higher proof of distillation means even less grain character is present.

Another experiment to consider is adding "age" to a cheap bourbon, such as Old Crow.

--Chuck Cowdery (http://cowdery.home.netcom.com)