If you're like a lot of folks who got into home distilling in order to make your own bourbon, then you landed in the right spot. In this tutorial, I'm going to show you how to make the simplest bourbon mash recipe that is designed for the beginner moonshiner. So, get ready to take some notes cause you're going to want to try this one.
What is bourbon?
Bourbon is simply a whiskey with some very specific characteristics. There are a few technical rules a distiller has to follow to be able to label a whiskey with the word 'bourbon'. The rules listed below are legal requirements, but we are going to cheat a couple of these rules. Why are we going to cheat, you ask? First, we want to be able to create a great tasting bourbon at home at as low a cost as possible. We also want to be able to experiment with different recipes and not have to wait years to see how they turned out. Below are the technical rules for commercial distillers and craft distillers.
Bourbon Legal Definition
Bourbon must be made of a grain mixture that is at least 51% corn.
Bourbon must be distilled to no more than 160 (U.S.) proof (80% alcohol by volume).
Bourbon must be aged in new, charred oak barrels.
Bourbon may not be introduced to the barrel at higher than 125 proof (62.5% alcohol by volume).
Bourbon which meets the above requirements and has been aged for a minimum of two years, may (but is not required to) be called Straight Bourbon.
Bourbon aged for a period less than four years must be labeled with the duration of its aging.
If an age is stated on the label, it must be the age of the youngest whiskey in the bottle.
Only whiskey produced in the United States can be called bourbon.
Easy 10 gallon bourbon mash recipe
If you are new to home distilling and not completely comfortable converting starches then this recipe is for you. This recipe is going to use sugar, not starch conversion, and we aren't going to age it in a new oak barrel. Now don't worry, if you have an oak barrel you want to use with this recipe you can go right ahead with that. If you want to use an oak barrel, but don't have one you can check out the oak barrels right here
We're going to use oak sticks to get the bourbon flavor and color. Now keep in mind, you can't match a barrel aged flavor with a wood stick, but this will create great flavors and it will be cheaper and quicker, thus allowing you to try several recipes in a mater of months instead of years. We would love it if you wanted to try out the Still'n The Clear medium charred American White Oak sticks for aging your whiskey.
This recipe most definitely produces a distinctly bourbon whiskey. These rules just mean that we can't put a label on it and sell it in a store, but we weren't planning on doing that anyway, right?
Now, let's get to it, shall we?
The Simple Beginner Bourbon Recipe
6 lbs. Cracked corn
3 lbs steamed and crimped oats
15 lbs. Sugar
2 Tbls. DADY yeast
If you're looking for an easy beginner-level bourbon recipe ingredients kit, you will be shocked at how simple this recipe kit is and how great it tastes. This kit is exactly what you need to make this exact recipe. Our kit has everything you need except sugar and water, and we've even included the medium charred American White Oak you need to age and color your bourbon. Your final product will have a beautiful color and hints of earthy vanilla/caramel notes from the medium charred oak. Give this kit a try today - you'll be glad you did.
Heat 5 gallons of water to 160°F (71°C) in a pot large enough to hold the water, sugar, and grains. Add in the cracked corn and hold at that temp for 45 minutes. This will prep the cracked corn to release it's flavor into the mash. Be sure to continually stir so the corn doesn't scorch on the bottom of the pot while the burner is on.
Turn off the heat and add in the steamed oats. The steamed oats have already been gelatinized so all you have to do is stir them into the hot water to rehydrate them. Now add the sugar and stir thoroughly so all the sugar gets dissolved.
Transfer the mash to your fermenter and add the last 5 gallons of cold water. This will lower the temp down and hopefully it will lower it to 90F (32C) so you can pitch in the yeast. If it doesn't then wait until the temp of the mash drops naturally to 90F. Now add in the yeast. Your mash should start bubbling away within 24 hours of pitching the yeast. Allow the ferment 7 to 10 days to complete then strain of the wash from the grain.
If something is wrong and the mash doesn't start bubbling, then you can refer to this video about trouble shooting a stuck ferment.
Now it's time to distill the wash. There are many different ways to distill whiskey and this article isn't specifically about that, but it's my opinion that a bourbon is best distilled as a single run from a pot still or non reflux column still. Once you have distilled your wash and you have made your cuts it's time to proof between 100 proof to 125 proof. Here is a video about this super simple method for proofing your whiskey to a specific value.
Put your whiskey in a glass container and use 1 oak stick per half gallon to age it.
What kind of wood should I age bourbon with?
For this particular recipe you are going to use a medium charred American White oak. It is important the oak be well seasoned to remove a large percentage of tannins. You can char the oak yourself or you can purchase oak already prepared for the aging process. Try our medium charred Ozark White Oak.
Our oak is harvested in the Ozark Mountain range of Arkansas. Use this American White Oak to age, color, and flavor your homemade whiskey. This will create some great vanilla/caramel notes. A 1 lb. kit (8 individual sticks) will oak/age several gallons of moonshine. As many gallons as you can get out of this kit, you just can't go wrong. Plus there is no additional charge for shipping. -Moonshine Not Included, lol-
American White Oak sticks- Charred Medium
Our Oak staves are seasoned and Naturally dried- NO KILN DRIED OAK
6" long x 5/8" thick x 1 1/8" wide
How long should I leave the oak in?
I have created a Guide sheet for aging whiskey with oak sticks. Get all of our FREE Downloadable Guide Sheets.