The Old Way of Distilling Bourbon

The Old Way of Distilling Bourbon

Bourbon has made its way from a bottom shelf drink to up the ranks with a wide variety of ages and prices to choose from. As this drink has boomed for the last decade not a lot of people may know the basics about the drink or even how it’s made.

For starters do y’all know that if you’re drinking bourbon you are definitely drinking Whiskey but if you’re drinking Whiskey you may not be drinking Bourbon. And Bourbon’s have an interesting process when being made. Noted that they can only be made in the United States. 

Let’s get into the process

Gathering The Mash

Traditional bourbon is made from a mash of grains. There are Corn, Rye, Wheat (or Barley). It’s recommended that corn comprises 70 percent of the mash with the other two grains evenly splitting 30 percent.

The corn and rye can be put together in your grain mill. It will go through screens about three times to get the desired texture and fineness. The wheat will be milled separately.

Now put your mix into your brew pot. The water needs to reach 212 degrees Fahrenheit before turning the heat off and mixing the grains in. Let the temperature drop to 150 degrees and throw in the Wheat. Keep it stirring and once it gets to 86 degrees, you’ll want to throw in a pack of distiller’s yeast.

Time To Ferment

This section doesn’t need a whole lot of explaining. All you need to do is pour your cornbread-like mixture into a sealable jug or a fermentation bucket.


You’ll leave it for 10-14 days.

And that’s a wrap.

Kidding on to the next step.

Let’s Use The Bourbon Still Kit

You’ll need to grab your cheesecloth (strainer) and allow the liquid to separate from the solid mash. All the liquid that is going into the still will be watery alcohol that needs to be put over medium heat for an hour.

Collect Your Distillate

This is where things get tricky and you may wish you were drinking the bourbon instead of trying to make it. It goes in four stages. 

  • Foreshots- this part is collected and thrown out. It makes up 5% of the distillate and should NEVER BE CONSUMED. It’s toxic and can make you go blind.
  • Heads- this is 50 percent of the distillate and is also toxic and needs to be discarded.
  • Hearts- These are your winners and makeup 30 percent of your mix. This part of the distillate won’t have that chemical smell the first two categories will have.
  • Tails- This is the oily residue that sits atop the rest of the mix. It makes up about 35%. They can be used for your next batch but know that this portion does contain chemical elements.

The Finale

You’ve made it to the aging process. Technically, if you feeling a little desperado then you can drink it right then and there but it’s a lot better aged. Throw in some spices or some charred oak chips and you can be considered a real professional.

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