So here it goes. First, I want to welcome you to The Distiller’s Journal. I’ll be honest and say that this post isn’t much fun. It contains all of the warnings that would be distillers should hear at least once. It also contains some information on getting started. If you’re reading the first post, it also likely means that the website doesn’t have a whole lot of meat on its bones just yet. Please bear with me as I continue to post information in order to turn this site into a workable knowledgebase for amateur distillers.
First Things First
I’m going to assume, since you’re hear that you’re interested in home distillation. I am also going to assume that if you’re interested in distilling your own liquor… there’s very little I’m going to do to talk you out of it. That being said, like an overly cautious parent, I’m going to tell you again.
1. You can kill yourself, your friends and everyone you ever met
Nothing quite like hyperbole. In all seriousness, distillation is something that should be done with care. There are a few risks that you should know about. First, while your still pot contains delicious, delicious alcohol, it also contains a variety of poisons that you want nothing to do with. These poisons include methanol and propanol which will do some damage over the long haul. When you’re making your cuts, and we’ll discuss your cuts later, it’s important to be careful and, when in doubt, err on the side of caution. A little part of you might die if you think you’re tossing away delicious ethanol. Just remember that it’s better a part of you die than the whole thing.
2. It’s probably illegal
Know the law in your country/province/state/county. Most countries have outlawed the unlicensed distillation of alcohol. Some countries tend to turn a blind eye if the quantity is sufficiently small, and you’re not selling it, but the moral of the story here is that you need to do some research to figure out what the risks are. No one can tell you how much risk is acceptable…it’s a decision that you’ll have to make for yourself.
3. You can blow yourself up
You remember all that good stuff coming out of your condenser? Well, its flammable and it’s pretty close to a heat source that may or may not be an open flame. Test your equipment before you use it, and keep a close eye on your equipment. Monitor the temperature of your column, monitor the temperature of the pot, monitor the flow from the condenser. Distillation should be fun, but care must be taken. Keep your wits about you, and you’ll be sippin’ on something delicious in no time.
There you go, I’ve said it and I feel better. If you are still interested in moving forward that’s on you. It’s a decision that every home distiller has to make for him or herself. If you’re still up for it, then read on.