You probably know it but moonshine is homemade, unaged alcohol. It is traditionally made from the base of sugar, meal, corn, water, and, of course, yeast. While there are various recipes available, most moonshine can be found in the rum and whiskey varieties.
Ask most people to think about moonshine and they’ll usually conjure up images of the prohibition during the early 20th century. Experienced moonshiners tend to be able to tell the proof of their shine by simply shaking the mason jar and then inspecting the bubbles inside.
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If the moonshine has large bubbles that disappear quite quickly, it is usually an indication that it possesses a high alcohol content. If the bottle shows small bubbles that disappear slowly, then, you’ve guessed it, the moonshine will have lower alcohol content.
Moonshine is instantly recognizable thanks to its clear color and high alcohol content. This strong alcohol has roots that date back to Prohibition when it was deemed illegal to brew your own alcohol.
Thankfully, there are no such laws today. However, when it comes to making your own moonshine at home, the process can be very tricky without the right tools. You will require certain equipment to ferment the liquid and distill the alcohol. When done right, the whole process can be invigorating and hugely rewarding.
Many people tend to come across a hurdle when trying to proof moonshine, however. This is one of the most important steps in creating good-quality liquor. Therefore, you want to get the whole process right so the moonshine is smooth and full of flavor.
And this is what we are going to guide you through today. With a little bit of science and a dash of artistry, you can proof high-quality moonshine from your very own home. Let’s find out more below.
- 1 What Is The Typical Proof Of Moonshine?
- 2 What Proof Is Moonshine?
- 3 What Is Moonshine? | Is Moonshine Illegal?
- 4 MOONSHINE FACTS | mysite
What Is The Typical Proof Of Moonshine?
There is no doubt that moonshine is notorious for being a potent drink. If you have ever tried this beverage, you would have been met with a strong kick from it. When considering its usual proof, it is unsurprisingly pretty high.
The proof of moonshine is generally around 150 proof. That equates to around 75 percent alcohol. However, this figure can vary depending on multiple factors. For a start, corn whiskey can not be distilled to more than 80 percent ABV or 160 proof in the USA. To be legally distributed, it is capped to 62.5 percent.
As we stated above, moonshine experts can usually tell the proof of their creations by observing the bubbles after shaking the jar. Those who have years of experience can sometimes match the readings of a hydrometer just by looking at the moonshine and the bubble patterns.
It isn’t so easy for beginners, though. The good news is that this level of mastery is not always required thanks to some basic tools that can be used to check the proof of moonshine instead. Examples include hydrometers which are accurate, reliable, and for most moonshine brewers, a must-have.
How To Get High Proof Moonshine
After you have created your mash and allowed it to ferment for a few weeks, your next step is to distill your moonshine. Distillation separates any alcohol from the water.
The key to getting high-proof moonshine is to understand the distillation process.
- The alcohol that becomes separated from the water is ethanol.
- Ethanol always boils at a lower temperature than water with pure ethanol boiling at 172 degrees Fahrenheit and water boiling at 212 degrees Fahrenheit.
- In the process of creating moonshine, the wash gets heated up to between 172 and 212 degrees Fahrenheit. This is when ethanol boils and vapor is produced. This vapor is vital as this means the ethanol is rising.
- The vapor becomes condensed and gets turned back into liquid form before being collected.
In order to achieve high-proof moonshine, the distillation process is the last step.
Proofing Moonshine With A Hydrometer
To indicate and find out the potential alcohol content of any liquid, a hydrometer is regularly used. This instrument is used to measure the density of liquids compared to the density of water. Therefore, it can then show you the water’s alcohol content.
There are two types of hydrometers available:
Proofing hydrometers, also known as spirit hydrometers, are generally used to measure the final and absolute alcohol content of water.
Brewing hydrometers are used to measure the potential alcohol content via a gravity reading.
There are 4 basic steps to proofing moonshine. They are:
- Using a hydrometer and a copper moonshine parrot. These will accurately proof your moonshine.
- Place your hydrometer into the copper parrot.
- Once your moonshine has filled the copper parrot, your hydrometer should start to float.
- At this point, your hydrometer will indicate the liquid’s proof.
Knowing the proper proof of your moonshine will make it easier to monitor the whole process. Not only is this important to proofing and diluting the moonshine, but it is essential for making cuts during a run.
We suggest keeping notes on runs as you go along. This will make the entire process much easier for future runs.
Knowing the temperature and proof of the liquid will cut the process time and guesswork every time from then on.
How To Use A Hydrometer
When it comes to homebrewing, a hydrometer is an essential piece of kit. This instrument can measure the Alcohol by Volume (ABV) in liquid simply by measuring the amount of sugar in it.
A hydrometer should be used throughout the fermentation process to ensure the sugar is converted into alcohol.
Before you make your first batch of moonshine, we recommend running a test with your hydrometer.
Many people tend to use a trial jar when they use a hydrometer. Trial jars are 200mm long and made from clear plastic. You can simply fill the jar to around 35mm from its top with the liquid you intend to use and then drop your hydrometer into the jar.
You can read the Specific Gravity (SG) from the lower two levels. This can be seen from the side of the test jar. Special Gravity is used as an easy way to obtain information about the concentration of solutions of different materials such as sugar, brines, and acids.
While most people rely on a hydrometer to guide them, you can also achieve accurate readings from them to work out the ABV of the drink. For the most accurate readings, the hydrometer should be used in a liquid that has a temperature of 68 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees Celsius).
To find the ABV, take the starting gravity from the finish gravity. Then, divide this number by 7.362.
You should use a hydrometer at the beginning of the fermentation process and at the end. This will let you know if the fermentation has been successful with all of the sugars being used. This also informs you of the potential ABV achieved from the fermentation process.
The Difference Between ABV And Proof
Many people get confused when they try to measure the ABV and proof of alcohol. But, these are two different aspects of brewing alcohol.
The alcohol content of a beverage is measured in proof. It is not always so straightforward, however. This is because the bottle of alcohol will often carry a different number.
ABV is short for Alcohol By Volume. The number here states how much alcohol there is by volume in the drink. In other words, the percentage of alcohol in the liquid. ABV is the standard measure used for measuring alcohol strength and is used globally.
Proof is different from ABV. The formula to measure proof is two times alcohol by volume (ABV). For instance, vodka can be 45 percent ABC but 90 proof.
Making 200 Proof Alcohol: Is It Possible?
Unfortunately, it is impossible to make 200 proof alcohol through distillation. If you’re wondering what 200 proof alcohol is, it is when the liquid is 100 percent ethanol. 190 proof simply means that the liquid is 95 percent ethanol with the other 5 percent consisting of water.
The highest proof that is currently available in the world is Everclear with 190 proof. Getting any higher than this is tricky business. There are actually limits to how pure alcohol can become. The higher the proof becomes, the more volatile it gets with a higher risk of becoming affected by environmental factors.
If you wish to make 200 proof alcohol (in other words, ethanol), you would need to distill magnesium ethoxide. However, an issue arises. As this becomes exposed to oxygen, the liquid tends to absorb moisture from the atmosphere. The result? 95 percent ethanol.
Moreover, ethanol is regarded as an azeotrope meaning that a mixture will have two more liquids that can not be altered by regular distillation. Therefore, any vapor produced from ethanol is just 95.57 percent alcohol.
What Proof Is Moonshine?
Moonshine is a very high proof alcohol that is usually made in clandestine stills. The name comes from the tradition of making the drink at night and distilling at night as to avoid the authorities.
What dictates ‘true moonshine’ in the modern era is still debated.
As moonshining is an illegal and clandestine procedure, safety procedures are rarely followed and high grade scientific equipment is seldom used.
- The outcome of this is some pretty shaky results that can often vary from distiller to distiller.
- As a result, when moonshining, you will seldom know what the real proof of the moonshine is until it comes to the proofreading.
- As mentioned, scientific tools aren’t used that often so reading proof can be pretty hard and usually involves some manual observatory skills to tell proof.
In this article we have explored what proof is, how moonshiners traditionally read their proof, and what proof moonshine commonly is. Read on to learn about moonshine and alcohol proof.
What Is Proof?
- In the context of alcohol, proof is basically how much alcohol there is in a liquid, the term comes from a historical pre-scientific method for determining how strong an alcoholic drink was.
- This shouldn’t be muddled up with ABV, or alcohol by volume, which is a different measurement of the same thing.
- Back in 16th century England alcoholic drinks would be taxed depending on how much alcohol they contained, so auditors often needed some form of practice to tell how much alcohol there was in a liquid.
The first and most basic test of proof was simply setting the liquid alight.
‘Above proof’ was a term used to describe alcohol that was flammable, an inflammable liquid was considered ‘under proof’.
- This was an inaccurate test that sought to ‘prove’ there was alcohol in a drink as it set alight, thus making it subject to a different tax bracket than ‘under proof’ alcohol.
- There was also a rather dangerous and even more inaccurate way of measuring proof called the gunpowder test.
- The tax collectors would soak gunpowder in the liquid, if they could still fire a gun when loaded with this gunpowder, the alcohol would be considered ‘100 proof’ (a now incorrect use of that measurement) and when the inverse happened it was considered ‘under proof’.
- Both these tests were extremely inaccurate and basically could determine, with changing results, that there was alcohol present in a liquid and it should be taxed thusly.
- Other methods were developed attempting to use gravity to measure alcohol but they were equally inefficient.
- It was actually us Americans that created the main and most common (and also accurate) way to measure proof.
After it was discovered how to measure the percentage of alcohol in the 1800s this was then used to measure proof. For instance, if a drink was considered 50% alcohol by volume, then it was considered to be 100 proof.
How Do Moonshiners Tell Proof?
Some moonshiners don’t use these methods at all. The clandestine distillers have actually found a (still fairly inaccurate) way to tell proof that does somewhat rely on actual science.
This is known mainly as a ‘shake test’, and relies on a distiller’s experience and keen eye to be accurate. Yet, more modern methods are used in the present day.
The ‘Shake’ Test
The moonshine is placed in a mason jar, turned horizontally and then is shaken vigorously. What the distillers are looking for are the bubbles that form on the surface of the liquid.
If the bubbles are large and dissipate quickly, then the alcohol is considered to be high proof.
Many distillers think they can tell the exact measurement of proof by the size of the bubbles, but this is very scientific. When bubbles are small and stay around longer, the alcohol is considered to be underproofed.
What Is Moonshine? | Is Moonshine Illegal?
Do you have a passion for distilling and want to sell your drinks in different types of marketplaces? Or maybe you just want to learn the essentials of home distilling? In either case, it's important to understand the legality of moonshine and its ABV.
Alcohol by volume, or ABV, is the percentage of a drink’s volume that is pure alcohol. This number indicates the alcohol strength of a drink and is used in part for making popular cocktails and comparing different types of alcohol.
Keep reading to learn what moonshine is, what the average ABV of moonshine is, what flavors it comes in, and more.
What Is Moonshine?
Moonshine is a high-proof liquor produced illegally without government authorization. It is called moonshine because it is traditionally illegally distilled during the night to avoid being discovered by law enforcement.
Moonshine is noted for having a very high alcohol content and being distilled in a variety of handmade, ramshackle stills usually found in the woods or mountains. Moonshine became very popular during the Prohibition era, in which organized and unorganized criminals were involved. It is still made and consumed today.
What Is Moonshine Made From?
Moonshine can be made from any grain or fruit but is most commonly made using corn. Since the majority of people who distill their own spirits are farmers or live in rural areas, they tend to use whatever crop they have a surplus of for distilling into moonshine. Corn is often preferred both because of its abundance and because it is a good source of fermentable sugar.
Moonshine Alcohol Percentage | Moonshine Proof
Moonshine usually has an ABV of 40% but can sometimes be as high as 60%-80% ABV. Alcohol content can be converted to proof by multiplying it by two. So, 40% ABV is 80-proof.
The distilling process is the key to a spirit's alcohol content. Since moonshine is often made by untrained hands, it can vary greatly in alcohol content and even come out at an unsafe level.
The alcohol content affects the freezing point of alcohol, how it affects you when you drink it, and more. We strongly recommend buying a hydrometer if you do any distilling as it can help you determine the ABV of your spirit.
Since moonshine can be created using nearly any grain or fruit, the flavors can be just as varied.
Here are a few of the most popular moonshine flavors:
- Blackberry. A classic moonshine flavor, blackberry adds the perfect amount of sweetness to the often aggressive burn of moonshine. It's neither too overpowering nor too weak of a flavor to get the job done. If you're using moonshine in spring cocktails or summer cocktails, this is a must-try flavor.
- Peppermint. A great choice for winter cocktails, peppermint moonshine can add a fresh taste to your favorite drink. Peppermint moonshine is noted for its crisp and refreshing taste that puts eggnog to shame.
- Cherry. Often overlooked, cherry is actually a great choice for moonshine because the tartness complements the alcoholic bite fairly well. You can even leave the cherries in the jar for the added fun of eating laced cherries later on. Talk about a win-win.
- Apple. One of the most popular flavors of moonshine, apple moonshine takes apple cider to the next level. Even better, since there's such a variety of apple types on the market, you can get different notes from sweet to tart. It's also a great mixer for fall cocktails and a nice drink for your fun Halloween parties.
MOONSHINE FACTS | mysite
Did you know when your brother-in-law makes his apple pie moonshine and it freezes that means it's under 20 proof? An IPA beer these days is product rated at 8 proof and a regular domestic beer is 4% alcohol by volume.
Did you know when you get clear corn, rye or wheat moonshine and it's heavy with bubbles that it means it's low in proof? Our moonshine is 150 proof before it is expertly blended to produce your favorite flavor.
So, if your brother-in-law makes his own or buys 100 proof vodka at the liquor store it is not possible for his moonshine to ever be more than 100 proof.
When he puts about a quarter of that in a bottle and adds flavoring it then becomes only 25 proof.
Did you know that the higher the proof of the moonshine, before adding flavoring, that less bubbles and a lighter weight is good? Water is heavier than alcohol, therefore moonshine with too much water produces a bubbly, heavy and lower grade product.
Did you know the higher the proof of the clear the less you will taste the corn, wheat or rye? So if it has heavy, sweet corn taste it's probably 80 proof at best.
Did you know that our state taxes any product put into the state store at a mandatory 44% cost to the distillery? That doesn't include the 6% sales tax, 1% county tax or the taxes on the grain which is 225%!
Did you know if the proof of a clear moonshine is high it will burn blue with a tad of orange on the top? That's because it's extinguishing the oxygen in the air.
If it's low in proof it wont burn blue or hardly at all.
Country Hammer Moonshine offers a top quality product, with an unmatched variety of flavors. Best of all we make it convenient and it's totally LEGAL!
Our clear has very few bubbles, is low on water content and won't freeze, even after we blend in the flavors. It will always burn blue, has a smooth taste with very little burn and minimal corn taste.