How To Make Vodka at Home: 5 Simple Steps

by Karl | Updated: February 21, 2021

How’s it going everyone? I hope you’re having a sweet week. These are all the cuts from last week’s spirit room.

So I figured this is a good time to do a step by step overview of how to make a vodka from start to finish, to give all those people out there, trying to figure this out a bit of a jumpstart.

Courtesy of: Still It

Transcript: Welcome to still it everyone. This is the channel all about chasing the craft of home distillation and making it a legitimate hobby. So if you’re into distilling or craft spirits, have a look around and subscribe.

If it looks like you also have a channel, chances are you can help me out. And I guarantee you’ll learn something from the other people we’re hanging around here, too.

Future GC here. I just need to cut in and let you know something I’ve been editing this video and it turns it’s running over 25 minutes. You guys are awesome, but I can’t expect you to sit there and watch that. That’s ridiculous. So, unfortunately, I think I’m going to have to split this video into two parts because I can’t figure out a way to cut it down and make it manageable. And next week I’ll release the video for the cuts. I know for those guys that have been following the channel, that’s a bit of a tease and I’m really sorry for that, but I just don’t want to make people sit through a big ole video.

All right. So I thought it might be a good idea to summarize all of the videos that I’ve done in the last few weeks that pertain to this neutral spirit to give a step by step order and tutorial on how to make a neutral spirits. [Here is How to Make Potato Vodka]

So for those of you that have helped me get to this point, thank you so much. I really appreciate it. And I promise I’m always going to do the best I can to take the knowledge that everyone shares with me and share it around to anyone else that wants to learn.

If you’re new and you’re getting into this hobby, it is awesome. I cannot believe how much fun and how much fulfillment I’ve got out of this so far. It’s been awesome. But I totally understand that if you’re new and looking at getting into it, it’s pretty daunting and you just don’t know where to start.

So here’s the thing, watching this video by itself is not going to prepare you to make vodka from scratch. It’s just not, it’s going to take lots of time to learn. If you just want to make cheap cuts to get drunk with buy T500 and follow the instructions on the box. I don’t mean that as an insult. I’m just saying that if you really want to take the next step and do a little more than that is going to take some research.

So while this video isn’t going to give you all the knowledge you need to just go out there and do it. I’m hoping that it will give you a really good place to start and give you the knowledge you need to jumpstart that learning process. So to the guys that have been at this for a while, and really know your stuff, call BS on me.

If I screw up, stick it in the comments down below, I’m not going to hide it. Hopefully you guys know by now that that’s not my deal. And I’m totally happy to look. The full effort helps other people. If you knew, check the comments, check it out. Cause I guarantee you there’s going to be stuff down there that is going to help you as much, probably more than this video. Okay?

Step 1: Make a Wash

So making a neutral spirit or a vodka, that’s a five-step process. Number one, you need to make a wash. A wash is basically a solution that contains everything the yeast need to make you that sweet, sweet alcohol. There’s a whole bunch of different ways to do it. And really the way you do it is up to you. What you have experience with, or really what’s cheap in your area. What you have access to, all those sorts of things are going to play into it.

But for now, I’m going to suggest two options to you guys. One is the tomato paste wash or TPW. You’re going to see that everywhere on forums, check the forums out though with it.

Step 2: Fermenting

Number two is the fast fermenting vodka or FFV, which is what I use to create this. I’ll stick a link up top to that video, if you want to check it out. And the reason I suggest those is that the both sugar washes. When you’re starting out sugar washers have a whole lot less to stress about. Basically the only things you need to do is get the right amount of sugar and the right amount of water with the right nutrients at the right temperature to pitch the yeast.

And trust me, that really is on the simple side of things. You could go and make some kind of all grain or fruit wash as well, but there’s definitely an argument to be made for going cheap and easy when you don’t want a lot of flavor carrying over into the final product, like a vodka.

Number two, you need to ferment the wash. This is where the magic happens. This is where you pitch yeast into the wash and those little yeasts are going to metabolize the sugar and basically spit out carbon dioxide and alcohol. In actuality they’re going to do a whole lot of other stuff too, but don’t stress about that too much now. Just know that ideally, you want to make your yeast happy at this point.

There’s a couple of core things to mention about keeping the yeast happy. First, get your wash right so you’ve got the right amount of sugar and the right amount of water with the right amount of nutrients. Doing that, it’s going to make sure that the yeast have everything they need to multiply and to metabolize the sugar.

And it’s also going to make sure that you don’t stress them out with too much sugar. You’re also going to want to oxygenate the wort or the wash before you pitch your yeast. Oxygen is really important for the metabolism of the yeast. So make sure you do that.

And lastly, and arguably one of the most important is the temperature that your fermentor sits at through the duration of the entire ferment. Please note that the ideal temperature for any given yeast may be considerably different than a another yeast. So ideally when you’re new, you’re going to want to use the same yeast or a very similar yeast to what the people used in the original recipe.

If you’re using baker’s yeast. And that’s obviously not a bad idea for something like this, you’re going to want to be in the range of about sort of 25 to 30 degrees.

And the key is to try and keep that temperature stable through the whole thing. For me, once the yeast are done fermenting and your wash is as dry as it’s going to get it’s time for number three, the stripping run. Now there is an argument to be made that the stripping run is not entirely necessary. And I guess I see that side of the argument, but from what I’ve seen, it seems like a really, really smart step.

Step 3: Stripping Run

Once again, I’ve got a video doing the stripping run by itself. I’ll stick a card up top for that. So if you’re not too sure, go and check it out. But basically you’re running a potstill hard and fast with the goal of getting as much of the alcohol you want out of the wash and in a smaller volume, that’s easier to distill to a higher ABV later on.

Stripping runs conveniently will also let you take a wash that is greater than the size of your boiler and condense them down into low wines that you can then put into your reflux run later on. Running hard and fast and cutting down on volume is going to save you a whole lot of time in the long run. If you’re not too sure what I’m talking about there, I go into it in a little bit more depth in that stripping around video. So if you are new to all this, and you’re kind of struggling a little bit to get an overall view of what’s going on, check that video out too. And hopefully that will help you out.

Once you have enough low wines from stripping runs to charge your boiler, you’re ready for a neutral reflux run. So I know that all these words that distillers throw around and get a little bit daunting when you’re trying to get into this, don’t stress about it.

There’s going to be a point where it just sort of starts to click for you. And saying that I would say that at this point, I’ve put maybe a little bit more research into this than most people would have simply because I’m talking to you guys as well. And I still know nothing. Speaking of knowing nothing, I got to say that my priorities were a little bit messed up tonight I had to watch Game of Thrones before I came and recorded this video. That shit is getting intense.

Anyway, like I was saying, don’t stress it too much. You’re not sure what a reflux still is, Google it, or I’ll try and get a video sorted at some point in time describing the differences between a potstill and a reflux still, but just know that it allows you to create a higher ABV than a potstill.

It also allows you to really compress all of the chemicals that are going to come over into your cuts jars compared to the potstill, which lets you create much more defined cuts. Once again, I know that’s a whole lot of words for you, but stick with it guys. Trust me. It’s really not that bad. Once you’ve got the lingo sorted.

Step 4: Reflux Run

In any case, a reflux neutral run is pretty much the exact opposite of a stripping run. You’re going to run super slow and super precise. And the goal is to create really defined cuts between the four shots, the heads, the hearts and the tails. And what that’s going to give you hopefully is a really defined high, ABV larger hot section. In other words you going to get more vodka out of your wash and it is going to be insanely clean.

I just tried my first sample the other night. I don’t want to say too much yet before I do a blind taste test against the commercial vodka. But dude, I was, I was pretty impressed. So guys, the hype is real as far as I’m concerned and it is worth it. It is so worth it.

Anyway, once you’ve finished your spirit run, you’re going to be left with all of these cuts here and I’ve got some more over there too. The next step is to figure out which of these jars you going to put into your final product. What’s going to turn into your vodka and which of them you going to throw into your faints jar to possibly used in another reflux run later on.

I’m going to be doing that bit tonight as soon as I’m done with this talking stuff. Honestly, this part of the process is going to be a little bit easier than any other spirit that requires flavor carry over from the wash.

And the reason for that is you don’t really have to take into account any complex FAPE flavor combinations or what flavors you want to rescue out of the heads or the tails to go into the final product. Because we just want something that’s super clean. So any jar here that isn’t super clean is not going to make the cut.

Step 5: Blend

The second part of that step is to then blend all the jars that you’re keeping back together and then store that product. And when we’re dealing with something that is essentially a poison and ridiculously flammable, it’s important to do that properly. Furthermore, it’s important to store it in a way that’s safe for you to consume later on. And because the stuff is a pretty serious solvent, there’s some fairly serious restrictions on what sort of containers you can keep it in.

So there you have it team the five steps to making a kick ass vodka, make a wash ferment it, strip it, run it through a reflux still, choose the cuts you’re going to keep and store it. Honestly, I guess this kind of a bonus step as well. And let’s face it. That is the fun one. Enjoy it and experiment with it.

The reason that I’ve done such a big neutral wash is that there’s so many things you can do with this stuff.

So I hope for those of you that are looking at getting into this hobby and just getting started, I hope that gives you a decent overview, something that you can use to spring off and go out and find the rest of the information you need.

If you have any questions at all, don’t hesitate to ask. If I can’t answer them for you. There’s a bunch of people that watch these videos that probably will be able to. So sorry for having to cut the video in half again. I know that kind of sucks, but remember the next half was coming next week. Thanks a bunch to everyone. That’s helped me out.

Thanks to everyone for watching this video. If you liked the video, give it a thumbs up. That helps me out heaps. If you really liked it, have a think about subscribing and I’ll catch you guys next week. When I give you the rest of the video, see ya.

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