How to make Premium Vodka

Vodka is perhaps the most versatile of all the spirits. But get the cheap and nasty stuff and you're sure to wake up with a headache the next day! With the right ingredients and equipment, you can make a vodka just as premium as a Grey Goose or Belvedere, without the massive price tag. Here's how: 
STEP ONE: PICK YOUR INGREDIENTS 
You pretty much have five choices: wheat, rye, barley, corn or potatoes. All these things are sugary and starchy which means the yeast will eat them and turn what's left into alcohol. Your mash must contain active enzymes since these break down the starch into sugar, which is what the yeast needs to ferment. Here's a helpful chat from eHow where you can figure out if you need to add enzymes into you mash: 
Ingredients to Consider when Making your Mash
Ingredients Requires Enzymes? Additional Notes
Grains and Potatoes Yes Grains and potatoes are sources of starch, not sugar. Enzymes are needed to break down the starch into sugar.
Malted Whole Grains (e.g. malted barley, malted wheat No. Malted whole grains are rich in natural enzymes that break down starches into fermentable sugars. Enzymes activate in malted grains when the grain is cracked open and exposed to warm water for a sustained period. Milled, malted grains can be used alone, as they contain starch, or added to a starchy, enzyme-poor mash. Choose malted grains that are high in enzymes, such as malted wheat.
Refined Sugar and Molasses No. Because the sugar is already there, the yeast doesn't need additional enzymes. Sugar may be used solely to make vodka or added to starchy mashes to add additional fermentable material.

 

If you are making your vodka with Grains or Potatoes, we recommend buying the Still Spirits Alpha Amylase Enzyme Sachet 4g.

 

 

 

3. Depending on your mash ingredients, decide whether you need to use additional enzymes. Food-grade amylase enzyme powder can be purchased from a homebrew shop and added to the mash to convert the starch into fermentable sugars, if you're using something like potatoes, for example. Use the recommended amount for the amount of starch to be broken down. There is no need to use malted, enzyme-rich grains such as malted barley or wheat when using enzyme powder.

  • For enzymes to be able to break down starches, even the starches of malted, enzyme-rich grain, the starches must first be gelatinized. Flaked (rolled) grains are often already gelatinized. Ungelatinized ingredients such as potatoes and unrolled or malted grains are heated in water to the gelatinization temperature of the particular starch that is used. Potatoes usually gelatanize at about 66° C, and barley and wheat gelatinize at about the same temperature. Theoretically a potato mash should only need to be heated to 66° C. If a low temperature is used with potatoes, the potatoes should be finely shredded before adding them to the water.
  • Starch-degrading enzymes only work at specific temperatures and are destroyed at high temperatures. A temperature of 66° C is common, but temperatures above 70° C will result in the destruction of the enzymes. The absolute maximum temperature is 74° C; while enzymes will work for a period of time at this temperature and it can be used, much of the enzymes will be destroyed.

 

PART 2: MAKING DIFFERENT MASHES

 

1. Try a wheat mash. In a 38L metal pot with lid, heat 23L of water to about 74° C. Add two gallons of dry, flaked wheat and stir. Check the temperature and ensure that it is between 66° C and 68° C. Stir in one gallon of crushed wheat malt. The temperature should be about 65°. Cover and let rest for 90 minutes to two hours, stirring occasionally. The starches should convert into fermentable sugars during this time, and the mixture should become much less viscous. After 90 minutes to two hours, cool the mixture to 27° - 29° C. Use an immersion chiller for rapid cooling or just let it cool overnight, but don’t let it get much below 27°.
2. Try a potato mash. Clean 20 pounds of potatoes. Without peeling, boil them in a large kettle until gelatinized, about one hour. Discard the water and thoroughly mash the potatoes by hand or with a food processor. Return the mashed potatoes to the kettle and add five to six gallons of tap water. Mix to blend and bring mixture to just over 66° C. Add two pounds of crushed, malted barley or wheat and stir well. Cover and stir periodically over the course of two hours. Let cool overnight to 27° - 29° C. Letting it cool for a long period of time also gives the barley malt enzymes more time to break down the potato starch.
3. Try a corn mash. Make a mash according to the wheat mash recipe, but substitute flaked, pre-gelatinized corn (maize) for the flaked wheat. Alternatively, sprout your own corn over the course of three days and make a mash from it without added malted grain. A root about two inches long should sprout from each grain. The sprouted corn will contain enzymes that were formed during the germination (sprouting) process.
PART 3: FERMENTING THE MASH
  1.  http://www.probrewer.com/resources/distilling/vodka.php
  2.  http://www.liquoranddrink.com/ingredients/525-vodka
  3.  http://discussions.realbeer.com/archive/index.php/t-23868.html
  4.  http://www.botany.hawaii.edu/faculty/wong/BOT135/Lect14.htm
  5.  http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f36/using-iodophor-137611/
  6.  http://www.home-distiller.com/alcohol_distillation.htm
  7.  http://www.diffordsguide.com/class-magazine/read-online/en/2011-05-31/page-8/distillation
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