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Basic Whiskey Recipe

This whiskey recipe explains how to make a basic whiskey from beginning to end including mashing, fermenting, distilling and aging.



Mash Preparation:

Fill the boiler with 22.5 L of water, and get the water to a temperature of 67°C


When the water reaches 67°C slowly add the grain in a grain bag, stirring slowly as you do to avoid dry clumps.  NOTE: It is worth checking your mash pH during the mash by either using a pH strip or a digital pH reader. It should be between 5.2 and 5.4. Mash for 60 minutes at 67°C. 

Mash out:

 After 60 minutes turn the temperature up to 75°C for the mash out. Continue to recirculate the wort at 75°C for 10 minutes. If you do not have a small pump you can keep stirring the mash around with a spoon.


Take a pot of 9l of water at 75 degrees c and pour through grain bag to remove the last traces of sugars


Boil time: 15 minutes 

Cool & Pitch:

Give the wort a good stir and then let it cool down to below 30 degrees. As the cool wort collects in your fermenter pitch the yeast. 


Ferment at 22-28°C for 10 days or until you reach 1.012.

Distillation Preparation:

After fermentation is complete, transfer the whiskey wort to the boiler  

Stripping Run:

Turn on the burner and wait for the boiler to heat up. Once the temperature is around 55°C turn the cold water tap on and adjust the flow using your tap. Aim for a flow rate of 2L/minute. Once the spirit starts to come out, collect and discard the first 50ml. Continue collecting the spirit until the temperature is around 98°C.

Spirit Run:


Transfer the spirit back into the boiler and dilute the spirit down to 40% ABV by adding water. Measure this using an alcometer, hydrometer or refractometer along with a water calculator. Diluting the spirit to 40% ABV is important for the spirit run to be effective and gives you a better boil. Once the temperature probe reaches 55°C turn on the cold tap water. When the distillation begins to come out, you can collect the fore shots which is usually the first 250ml. This section can be discarded.

Heads and hearts

Start collecting the ‘heads’ in separate 200 ml containers or cups, putting them to the side once full. Label each filled cup with a number in the order it comes out of the still. Eg: 1 for the first cup, 2 for the second cup, and so on. Once the temperature reaches around 83-85°C the heads section is complete, and it is time to start collecting the ‘hearts. Place a larger vessel under the still and start collecting all the hearts in the one vessel. This middle part is all good spirit so does not need to be separated into small sample containers or cups. Continue collecting the hearts until the spirit is coming out at around 55% abv.


Once the still temperature reaches 90°C the heart section is complete, and it is time to collect the tails. Start collecting the tails in separate 200 ml containers or cups, putting them to the side once full.  Label each filled cup with a number in the order it comes out of the still, as you did for the heads. Once the still temperature is around 93-95°C the tails collection is complete. At this temperature, the good part of the tails has all been collected.

It is now time to start collecting the ends of the tails. Place a larger vessel under the still and collect the last of the tails in a larger vessel until the temperature is around 98°C. Then turn off the burner. This last part of the tails is not used in final spirit but can be kept for future stripping runs). 


What you have collected is:

  • the heads (in small sample fractions)
  • the hearts (all in the one large container)
  • the tails (in small sample fractions)
  • the final of the tails (all in one large container).

The hearts collected in the middle of the spirit run are the best part of the spirit. This is why they are all collected together. The final tails collected in the other large container are not good for the final spirit. That is the reason these have also been collected all in one container.

The reason you have collected the heads and tails in small sample fractions is that not all the heads and tails will be good to use and mix in with the hearts. Normally the last few cups of the heads (closest to the hearts), and the first few cups of the tails (closest to the hearts) will be good to add in with the hearts. But you will need to taste each sample container and choose what you want to add to your mix.

Work your way through tasting and smelling each of the heads and tails fractions. Add each container you are happy with to your heart’s container. Add any fraction samples from the heads and tails that you are not happy with to the second large container with the final part of the tails. This large tails container is not necessarily bad, but it has not been refined enough yet to use in the final spirit. This should be saved and can be added to the next stripping run you do with your next batch of whiskey so that it is not all wasted. 


Dilute your final collected spirits you are happy with down to 50% ABV with filtered or distilled water in a large 5 L glass jar. You can use an alcometer, hydrometer, or refractometer and a water calculator to do this. Make sure your jar is large enough and still has more space as you will be required to add more water to this jar as the aging process progresses. Add some oak chips of your preference to the jar (medium American oak chips work well for this recipe). You will only need around 20g of chips for 3.5L of whiskey.

Leave the spirits to age for 3 weeks in a cool, dark place. After 3 weeks dilute with filtered or distilled water to drop the spirit to 47% ABV. After 6 weeks, dilute again with filtered or distilled water to 44% ABV. And after 9 weeks dilute it further to 40% ABV. NOTE: Adding the water slowly during the aging period gives the whiskey a better, more rounded flavour than adding it all at once. Taste the whiskey periodically during the aging process and it should be ready after a minimum of 2 months.