Uncle Jesse’s Simple Sour Mash


Uncle Jesse’s Simple Sour Mash (UJSSM) is very popular amongst moonshiners due to its exceptional taste. It is an easy spirit to make, even for those new to the craft and requires minimal ingredients and equipment. The process involves making a number of generations, with each generation becoming smoother and more refined.

Across the internet you will find many versions of this recipe and many techniques for producing it, but they all have a similar goal. To be a simple straight forward recipe with very little complexity so it can be done by beginners and experienced moonshiners alike. These recipes are easily repeatable and the sour mashing side of the recipe produces smoother and smoother results.

Every moonshiner will have their own version of this recipe, and you will develop yours over time. This method is aimed at giving you a start on your UJSSM journey. This recipe will make 6 gallons US (5 gallons Imperial) and is aimed at flavour, not high alcohol content.

The main ingredients are cracked corn, sugar, water and yeast with the sour mash element being provided by the use of backset from the previous distillation. The backset is the slightly acidic liquid left in your still after you have completed a distillation run.

To make UJSSM you will need a fermentation vessel, the ability to heat several gallons of water (or access to filtered hot tap water), cracked corn, sugar, yeast, a thermometer and a still. You would be advised to have a triple scale hydrometer to check the specific gravity and a proof and traille hydrometer for testing the alcohol content of your finished product.

Heat up 3 gallons of water and stir in 6lbs of sugar until dissolved. As you are not looking to convert any starches in the grain the temperature does not need to be precise. Some people use filtered hot tap water for this process.

Place 6lbs of cracked corn into the fermenter and pour the sugar water over the top. Stir well and leave for about an hour to let the corn steep

Add around 1.5 to 2 gallons of backset from a recent mash for the first generation, and backset from the previous distillation in subsequent generations. Top up with water to make up the 6 gallons.

When the liquid has cooled sufficiently add the yeast and place the fermenter in a warm environment. The pitching temperature for the yeast will depend on which yeast you use, so check the label first. You can use a sealed fermenter with an airlock or just cover the top of your fermenter with a clean cloth.

Fermentation should take between 7 and 10 days after which the SG should be close to 1.000. At this stage the liquid can be transferred from the fermenter into the still, leaving the corn in the fermenter. Add 3 gallons of hot water to the fermenter and stir in 6 lbs of sugar to begin your next generation.

Run your still ‘low and slow’. You should heat the still up slowly and have a broken stream of liquid coming out of the still arm or the worm.

Check your cuts as normal until you are well into the tails.

Use 1.5 to 2 gallons of your remaining backset to add to your fermenter, wait for it to cool and add the yeast. Your second generation is underway. After 3 or 4 generations you will need to discard some of the old corn and replace it with fresh.

With UJSSM it is normal for the various generations to be blended together at the end of the process. The purpose of running the still ‘low and slow’ is to gain access to the ‘sweet water’ that comes off between the end of the hearts cut and the start of the tails cut. This can then be used to proof down or temper the end product as it is of a lower alcohol content but full of flavour.



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