How To Make Corn Whiskey (2023 Updated)

Last Updated on November 5, 2023 by Lydia Martin

Making your own moonshine is very interesting, especially if you’re into whiskeys. However, it can be intimidating for some because there are different ingredients for the recipe to choose from. But if you want to keep it old-school, nothing beats a traditional corn whiskey moonshine.

In this post, we will guide you on how to make corn whiskey.

5 Steps in Making Corn Whiskey At Home

1. Prepare the Materials

Materials for Corn Whiskey

Prepare the basic equipment. You need a heat source, a fermentation bucket, a large pot for mashing, cheesecloth, a brewers thermometer, a plastic funnel, a wort chiller to cool liquid, and a spare plastic bucket for the mashing equipment. 

Meanwhile, you also need 5 gallons of water, 8.5 pounds of crushed corn (sometimes called flaked maize), 1 tsp sugar, 1.5 pounds of crushed malted barley,  and 1 tbsp (14g) bread yeast for the corn whiskey mash.

2. Make the Corn Mash

Corn Mash

Heat Water in a Pot

The first step in making mash is heating 5-gallon water to roughly 165 °F in a mash pot. Turn off the heat once 165 °F is reached. Immediately pour the maize into the water and stir for 3-5 minutes.

Read: How To Make Whiskey At Home

Constantly Stir & Check the Temperature

Making of the Corn Mash

After that, stir for 5-10 seconds every 5 minutes until the temperature drops to 152 °F. At this point, the corn starts to gel. This is because the corn is being broken down and starts to release starch.

Put in Malted Barley & Stir

As it drops to 152 °F, stir in 1.5 pounds of crushed malted barley. Stir for 1-2 minutes and cover the mixture for 90 minutes. As you let it rest, enzymes in malted grains like malted barley convert the starch in the corn into fermentable sugar. 

The sugar is needed to ferment the corn. It’s important not to use regular flaked barley.

Create a Yeast Starter

It’s time to create a yeast starter. Add 1 tbsp of active dry bread yeast and 1 tsp sugar to a glass of warm water to rehydrate the yeast. Mix until the yeast and sugar dissolve in water. 

When there’s a yeast cake formed on top of the water, it’s working. This allows the yeast to have a head start. The rapid fermentation process will begin as soon as the yeast is added to the moonshine mash.

Cool (or Chill) the Mash

Cool the mash down to 70 °F. You can use an immersion chiller to speed up the process or let the mixture sit for a couple of hours. Cool the mash as early as possible to lessen the chance of contaminating the mash with ambient bacteria.

Check out some amazing books about whiskey here.

3. Strain & Wort the Mash

Strain the Mash

Corn Mash with strainer

Scoop the mash to the cheesecloth bag, a little at a time. Squeeze the cheesecloth bag to separate grain solids from liquids. Placing a little amount of mash allows us to wring out the bag.

Aerate the Wort

Pour the mash back and forth between the two buckets to aerate the wort. Do this at least 15 times. Pour back and forth aggressively to see the formation of froth and bubbles.

Take the Specific Gravity Reading

Gravity Reading

At this point, it’s time to take a specific gravity reading. Fill a test tube using a hydrometer. Determining the specific gravity allows the distiller to know how much alcohol will be in the wash if the fermentation goes well. 

Take a reading after the fermentation as well.

Read: Popular Corn Whiskey Brands

4. Ferment the Mash

Add Yeast Into the Wort

Add the yeast starter to the corn mash to start the fermentation process. Once the yeast is added, the wort is now called wash. For 5 gallons of mash, add 1 tbsp of active dry yeast.

Air-Tight Seal It

Hudson Whiskey

Transfer the wash into a fermentation vessel and seal it with an airlock. Use a rubber stopper, clear plastic hose, and zip ties to create your own airlock. Bubbles appear through the airlock of the fermentation bucket after several hours.

Ferment It For A Week

Leave it in the fermenting container for at least a week. Let it sit until it stops bubbling. The presence of bubbles means it’s still fermenting. When you don’t see any bubbles, it’s ready to distill.

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5. Start Distilling

Transfer Into A Pot Still Using a Siphon

Pot Still

Using a siphon, transfer the fermented wash to a pot still. You can also use cheesecloth. What’s important here is to reduce the sediment in mash water close to zero. 

Heat for 30-60 minutes

Now comes the distilling of your moonshine. The distillation process separates liquids from nonvolatile solids, separating alcoholic liquors from fermented materials [1]. Heat the wash over medium to medium-high for 30-60 minutes. 

Turn in the Condenser


As the temperature hits 120°F – 140°F, turn on the condenser. You should be able to see the liquid dripping out the tube of the condenser at this point. Methanol starts to boil at 140°F.

Read: Popular 100% Corn Bourbon Brands

Remove the Heads

During the distillation, the earliest liquid fermented should not be consumed. Remove the first 1/4 cup of heads that comes out of the condenser tube. The heads contain a high concentration of methanol which is poisonous.

Collect the Body

Corn Whiskey

Collect the usable moonshine after removing the heads. Use 500 ml bottles to make it easier to collect the liquor. You would want the temperature to be between 175 and 185°F.

Throw Away the Tails

As the temperature reaches 205°F, stop filling the bottles. At this point, you’re not collecting the body of the alcohol. It’s the tails that are coming out of the condenser tube. Tails are fusel oils that need to be discarded because they can ruin the flavor of your moonshine.

Dilute the Corn Whiskey with Water (Plain)

Corn Whiskey with water

At this point, you have finished making a great corn whiskey. It does not need to be aged, unlike other whiskeys. It’s imperative to dilute the spirit with plain water to make it smoother. Start pouring a small amount until you reach the ratio you prefer.


How much does it take to make a gallon of whiskey?

It takes 8.5 pounds of crushed corn to make a gallon of whiskey. You also need 1.5 pounds of malted barley, crushed, and 5 gallons of water in this mash recipe. But how many gallons are in a barrel of whiskey?

Can you make whiskey from sweet corn?

Yes, you can use sweet corn to make whiskey. You can find a recipe on the internet that uses sweet corn.

In Summary

Corn whiskey is a spirit made from a mash bill of at least 80% corn. The mash can also include malted rye, wheat, and other grains. As with any other spirit, you can pull up any recipe from the internet to make moonshine, a batch of it. You can enjoy a glass of homemade alcohol. 

However, it’s important to note that distilling alcohol is illegal without proper licensing.



Lydia Martin

Lydia Martin hails from Redmond, Washington, where you’ll find some of the best cocktail bars and distilleries that offer a great mix of local drinks. She used to work as a bar manager in Paris and is a self-taught mixologist whose passion for crafting unique cocktails led her to create Liquor Laboratory. Lydia can whip up a mean Margarita in seconds! Contact at [email protected] or learn more about us here or feel free to give Lydia a tip.

One thought on “How To Make Corn Whiskey (2023 Updated)

  • May 27, 2023 1:23 am at 1:23 am

    Thanks for the recipe and the process. Unfortunately, something is wrong about methanol
    1 there’s no methanol in a grain wash, because there’s no pectin
    2 the temperature is not a valid criterion, in fruit brandies you’ll have a lot of methanol in the tails, because of the high solubility of methanol in water, in fact there’s methanol in each fraction of your distillate.
    The only way to reduce that amount of methanol in a brandy is to use a compound still.


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