How to make the smoothest mash recipe for moonshine

How to make the smoothest mash recipe for moonshine

Two ingredients not including the sugar and yeast and you’ll have the smoothest whiskey run you’ve ever had. Hint: Sweet feed is the secret weapon.

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Why is the mash recipe important?

The mash is the most important factor when talking about the flavor of the whiskey. For example, let’s say you make a whiskey run that turns out to be 110 proof. This means that it’s 55% alcohol. So the other 45% is the water that came from the mash. This means that what is in the mash affects the final product.


  • sweet feed (unpelletized)
  • Chopped corn
  • sugar
  • yeast
  • water

This recipe will make 30 gallons of mash by total volume including the grains.

See the chart below for different size recipes for mash batches in gallons. To alter the batch size just insert numbers from the chart into the instructions that follow.

Gallons Grains (gallons) Yeast (Tablespoons) Sugar (pounds)
30 5 6 25
20 3.5 4 16
10 2 2 8
5 1 1 4
2.5 0.5 0.5 2


Crack the grains

In a large pot add five gallons of water, an outdoor turkey fryer pot works great. Bring this water to 160f. I use an outdoor propane burner.

120 qt pot for heating up the water

While waiting for the water to come to temperature put one part sweet feed to 2 parts corn in a 5 gallon bucket until its full. I use a one gallon scoop so it doesn’t take as long. Set aside until the water reaches 160f

1 part sweet feed to 2 parts chopped corn

Now you can add the grains and reduce heat to maintain 160f for 45 minutes. Continuously stir the mash to avoid letting the grains scorch on the bottom of the pot.

Mix the mash

Now dump the cracked grains into a 30 gallon container and stir in 25 lbs. of sugar. When the sugar is dissolved completely add 15 to 20 gallons of cold water until the mash mix reaches 30 gallons by total volume.

Add the yeast

When the temperature of the mash drops down to the temperature recommended by the manufacturer of the yeast you can go ahead and add the yeast. I have found that 1 tablespoon of yeast per 5 gallons of mash works well.

A distiller’s yeast will produce the best results. I’ve found that the Red Star brand works really well and is very affordable. The downside is it’s usually hard to find locally, but Amazon will ship it straight to your door. Click the Amazon link to check current prices.

Let it ferment

Now all you have to do is wait. Let the mash do its thing for about a week. You’ll know when the mash is done when you can no longer see the bubbling produced by the yeast as it releases carbon dioxide.

For a deep dive into the process of home distilling check out this best selling, informative book by Jeff King. Just click the image below for current Amazon prices.

 I wrote this book to pass along the knowledge that was taught to me in the hills of Kentucky over 30 years ago. Along the way though I developed my own style. I boiled down what I learned and created a simplified style that any beginner can follow. I’ve developed designs that can be used right in the comfort of you own kitchen or out back in the woods! The truth is that Moonshining, aka “Home Distilling” is a folk art that helped build this country.
Check out this home use still kit. It’s ready to go. Make your mash and order the still. It’ll be on your doorstep by the time your mash is ready.


this is the simplest recipe I know and it produces an extremely smooth whiskey. Making mash is a very simple process. 1. Select your grains 2. cook your grains at 160f for 45 minutes 3. Add water to the desired volume. 4. let cool to correct temperature for the yeast. 4. add yeast 5. let ferment until done.

53 thoughts on “How to make the smoothest mash recipe for moonshine

    1. Sweet feed is feed containing a mix of oats and molasses. It can easily be found at a feed store or farm and ranch store.

    1. After the fermentation process the alcohol content will be less than 20 percent. It won’t be whiskey until you distill it. Distillation is when you heat the mash up to turn the alchol to steam then condensing it back to liquid. This process separates the alcohol from the mash leaving you with a much higher percentage of alcohol.

    1. I use sweet feed. This a mixture of various oats and molasas. I think it’s mostly used as horse feed. At my local farm store it’s called All Stock. The chopped corn is used as chicken feed and hog feed.

  1. I’m a little confused. You said Distillation is when you heat the mash up to turn the alcohol to steam then condensing it back to liquid. How do you trap the steamed off alcohol? Is there a utensil that I need to get? Thanks.

    1. David I’m really sorry. Maybe the confusion is that The article I wrote is just the recipe for the mash. Making the mash is just the first step in making whiskey. I am going to write an article on how to build a “still”. The still is how you heat the mash up, capture the alcohol steam and condense it back to liquid. You can go to my Pinterest board for moonshine and see many pics of different types of stills. here is the link

    1. To make a 5 gallon batch with this recipe you keep the same ratios. 2 parts chopped corn to 1 part sweet feed. But instead of filling the 5 gallon bucket you just put about 6 inches of grain in the bucket. Then cook it in about 2 gallons of water. Then add the rest of the water in to cool it down. And just use 1 Tablespoon of yeast.

  2. My Sister an I are going to try this do you have to use Spring water or well water or can you just get it from home spout.

    1. I have used all of the different water sources you mentioned and they all worked. That being said I will say that the chlorinated tap water did seem to take longer to ferment and there was a different taste in the final product. The taste of the water that goes into the mash does affect the final taste. Good luck and let me know how it turns out. Thanks for the comment.

    1. I ferment the mash in a container with a loose lid. This will allow carbon dioxide to escape and it will keep critters and rodents out. I don’t use an airlock. Whiskey mash isn’t as sensitive as say wine or beer so airlock isn’t necessary at least that’s been my experience. Thanks for the comment.

  3. Hello. I don’t have a very large still so I was wondering can I make the 5 gallons of mash and just run a little bit then run some more of it later or do I need to run it all at the same time.

    1. You don’t have to run the entire mash batch at once, but there will be a slight loss in the amount of whiskey you will end up with. At those volumes though it will be almost negligible. Thanks for the comment.

    1. You can strain the mash, which is then called the wash. It is drinkable, but this recipe produces a somewhat sour tasting wash. The alcohol content at that point will be 40 proof or less. This is similar wine. This is also how beer is made, but the recipes are much different than the one I have shared in this article.

  4. I’m confused on portions, I’m a beginner and most recipes are in pounds instead of gallons, so I need a breakdown on the 3.5 gallon for a 20 gallon mash

    1. Keep in mind this recipe has large tolerances. So, 3.5 gallons of grains would be roughly 1.2 gallons of sweet feed and 2.3 gallons of chopped corn. You can use anything smaller than a half gallon container to measure out the portions to keep the ratio right. For example, use a #10 soup can and start scooping grains into a 1 gallon container. 2 scoops of corn to 1 scoop of sweet feed. Don’t over complicate the recipe process. if you miss the measurements by a little bit it won’t hurt anything. you’ll still get a great whiskey and you will most likely not be able to taste the difference between batches that are close to the same recipe but not exact. Good luck. Let me know how it turns out.

    1. I get my yeast from Amazon. There is a link in the article to the yeast I use. I’ve used bakers dry yeast, but I get best results from a distillers activated yeast.

    2. The use of cracked corn is practically useless without the use of malted barley to synthesize the corn starches into fructose. The use of sugar would be null if doing so you could add sugar to possibly up the alcohol content. Sweet feed has some barley but isn’t malted due to what it is a filler feed. Make the most of it you will thank me for the addition to the recipe it will round our the flavor as well.

      1. Thank you for the informative contribution. It’s always welcome here. I would like to give it a try. How much barley would you suggest I use in this recipe?

  5. Thanks for your article. I am looking forward to trying this. I am very interested in what you learn about the malted barley.

    1. Thank you for the comment. I haven’t heard back about the malted barley so I’m going to do my own research and give it a try. I will post the results.

  6. I’ve had my mash going for about 4 days now, my inside temperature in barrel is at 68 degrees, never tried during winter months before but wish me luck!

  7. Well I had a few problems but just ended up with a quart of 130 proof and that was the heads, but I didn’t even get to middle run before proof started dropping dramatically, cap blew off at 180 degrees due to thumper got plugged off but I was down already at 50 proof before i got to middle run, was wondering why it dropped so quick?….I guess it was a blessing because nothing caught fire!

    1. I’m sorry to hear it. A rapid drop in the proof during a run usually indicates low alcohol content. What size was your run (volume of the wash)? What type of still are you using. send a pic if you can.

      1. 10 gallon pot still, 10 gallon wash, only difference from your chart was I used 10 pounds sugar! Ive got it all apart cleaning it but I have a older pic I’ll try to dig up! Put about 9 gallon of wash in it!

      1. My email is
        Still working on a gallery app for the website.
        It’s been my experience that the 2 main reasons for low alcohol content are 1. Not enough sugar for yeast to feed on and 2. Letting the temperature drop below threshold for yeast to thrive. I have also had a problem once where I think the yeast was bad, but even if you don’t put enough yeast in it should just take longer to ferment.

        1. That’s my problem I think, temperature up and down in the cabin, I tried to keep it above 70 but some nights it would get below 70 plus floor level is cooler than say 4 foot above the floor, my wall thermometer may say 75 but down lower it s 69, I also noticed when I dumped my grains outside I could smell the alcohol still in the grains, I should have let it go another week!

          1. I agree. It sounds like the fermentation process was slowed by the fluctuations in temperature. It probably would have been okay given enough time, unless the temp dropped to a level that killed the yeast.

            Your set-up looks reliable. I am surprised it puked under 180 degrees. There may yet still be a kink to iron out. How many runs have you made with this still?

  8. That was number 1 with it, the keg was a old charred aging keg that has seen its day, the black charred particles inside had came off the sides and made there way through my piping, they eventually plugged off my pipe causing cap to blow off, I’m working on trying to break all particles off inside so on next run I won’t have this problem, I could order a new keg non charred inside but that is expensive, I may find a big jar and replace it with but the keg gave it that traditional look, i put pea gravel inside and have been rolling it around breaking off any loose charred particles and washing it out,I don’t plan on doing anything till weather breaks and warms up, gives me plenty of time to get ready!

      1. For the 30 gal mash recipe. Do you fill the whole 5 gallon bucket with grains. I guess i dont undertand the ratio.

  9. I’ve been running this recipe for about 4 years now. It is easy, but I find that each batch has been different proofs. Ranges from 90-120 proof. The only thing different is the water. Sweet feed, distillers yeast and sugar are unchanged.
    This is the first run through a pot still. I can run it 2 more times and get a consistent 160 proof.

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