1. How much shine can I expect to produce when I run my still?
This is the question on everybody’s mind when they purchase a still. It is all mathematics, and some people give answers based on “funny” math. The truth is dependent upon your mash. The fermentation process, prior to the distillation process, will REALLY determine how much you should expect to yield. On average, a decent ABV (alcohol by volume) during the fermentation process should be around 10% to 15%. We have heard of people boasting about upwards of 20% ABV, but in reality you are shooting for somewhere between 10% & 15% ABV, and here’s why: alcohol & carbon dioxide are by products of the fermentation process (when yeast eat sugars). The higher the ABV the yeast has to live in, the more stressed they get, and eventually will die off. At about 18% ABV, for most yeast strands, they become very stressed due to their living conditions. They will give off foul smells and flavors around this ABV. The trade off for really high ABV (16% or higher) is, higher alcohol/shine that isn’t worth drinking from a taste perspective. We recommend shooting for an ABV of 10% to 15%. At this range you get a great tasting, smooth shine. While there are always exceptions to the rule, and other minor variables, the easiest method is to multiply whatever size still you want by 10% and then 15%. You will then have an honest answer on how much shine to expect. So for example: A 10 gallon still filled with your wash that is 10% ABV will yield you about 1 gallon of shine. If your ABV is 15% it will be 1.5 gallons. No matter what still you put it in to extract the alcohol out during the distilling process, you can’t argue with the math.
2. Why are moonshine stills made from copper?
Actually, not all stills are made from copper. Some people use stainless steel and other various metals. Copper is an amazing conductor of heat; therefore, it disperses heat evenly across the entire surface of the still. This creates a near perfect distillation process. This however, is not the only benefit of copper. Almost all whiskey-lovers agree that whiskey made from copper, just tastes better. Even science agrees! When you run a moonshine still, fermenting yeast creates sulfur, and sulfur gives whiskey a very bitter taste. Thankfully copper and sulfur bind together creating hydrogen-sulfide, which then turns into copper sulfate. Copper sulfate will stick to the inside of your copper still, leaving your whiskey much smoother. Copper may be more expensive than other materials, but when it comes to premium whiskey, it’s worth the price of admission.
3. What gauge copper do we use?
We use 20 oz./22-gauge, 32 oz./18-gauge and 48 oz./16-gauge. All of our stills come standard with 20 oz./22-gauge. 20 oz./22-gauge is perfect for hobby stills when paired with our reinforced design, and meticulously built by our experienced craftsmen. In turn, our products are more affordable for you, while maintaining a strength punching above its weight class. We do offer 32 oz./18-gauge for those folks who want to make sure that they can drop their still out of an airplane, and still use it later. Those with such a need should use our “Customize Your Own Still” section or the drop downs for any of our distillers kits. At the end of the day, the thickness of material used to make your still is a balancing act between durability and expense. No matter your choice, you can rest assured the quality will be the same that is expected of us here at North Georgia Still Company.
4. Are stills illegal?
This is a tricky question, without a perfect answer. Federally it is perfectly legal to own a moonshine still, however you must obtain a “distilled spirits permit” or a “federal fuel alcohol permit”. Meaning you can have it, but you can’t use it until you have your permit. The permit is inexpensive and easy to obtain. For more info visit www.TTB.gov/spirits/spirits-permits.shtml . State and local laws vary. Some states, such as Missouri, allow you to make 100 gallons per year! Others however, like New York, only allow production if you are a distillery. We recommend you research the specific laws in your area, so you can make an informed decision!
5. Do we report or record customer information to the government?
NEVER. We at North Georgia Still Company believe in a few things; God, country, and family. We are patriots in the purest sense of the word. What you do on your property is none of our business, or anyone else’s, including Uncle Sam.
6. Can I order a custom still? How does it work?
Absolutely! Custom work is one of our favorite things to do! We ask that you contact us and let us know what you’re looking for. If you have drawings or specific dimensions, be sure to send them to us. Even if you’re not entirely sure of what you want, we are here to help! All our custom work comes with our 100% satisfaction guarantee. Please know custom work may require more time than our posted lead times.
7. Why don’t we provide fittings and extra copper tubing for our standard still sets?
We have discovered over the years that everyone’s set up is going to be unique; there is no one size fits all. And, most folks have their own preference when it comes to the type of fittings they want to use. So instead of trying to guess what our customers want or need, we let them decide for themselves. This is America, and we believe in freedom! We do offer an assembly kit as well for folks who aren’t picky!
8. Where can I find copper tubing and compression fittings?
Everything you need to complete your set-up can be found at Home Depot, Lowes, or any other local hardware stores near you. If you happen to live too far from civilization, you can order everything online or you can add an assembly kit to your order!
9. What kind of warranty do I get with my still?
You spent hard earned money with us. We will repair, replace, or make right any issues that may arise from regular use. Now, to clarify, if you decide to shoot your still with a 12 gauge and then tell us it leaks, that may void a complete replacement. However, if we can fix it, we will. We build quality stills that you can pass down to your grandkids. Anything less is un-American.
We will never, ever, ever, share your information with anyone.
11. Do we ship in a plain box?
Yep. We use super boring, plain brown boxes. Your nosey neighbor will be none the wiser.
12. What happens if my product is damaged in shipping?
Contact us immediately! We ask all of our customers to open and inspect their packages as soon as possible. If yours is somehow damaged in transit, do not panic. We will take care of you. Please do not use your product if it has been damaged in shipping. Take pictures of the box and the damage, and contact us.
13. Can I use a propane burner?
Yes! Propane burners are great! Make sure you get one with an adjustable heat throttle. This will allow you to control the speed at which you distill. Remember the slower the better. We recommend using a piece of sheet metal as a barrier between your burner and still. This will enable you to get even heat distribution to the bottom of the still, and help protect the still from getting scorched. Please refer to https://www.ngstillco.com/setup-photos/ to see how to properly set up.
14. What else can my still make besides alcohol?
A still is useful for many things. We have customers who make essential oils, fuel, and distill water. A still serves as an awesome tool for preppers. Fresh water and fuel could be invaluable in an emergency!
15. What if my still is defective?
If you have an issue with your still, we want to hear about it. Please contact us ASAP so we can get you a new one!