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Fermenting Better Spirits

Fermenting Better Spirits

Fine tune your techniques so that you're producing the very finest spirit


Every single thing used in the fermentation process must be cleaned and sterilised before and after every use. We cannot stress enough how important sterilisation is. After sterilising, the fermenter and equipment should be rinsed several times with regular cold water, taking care to run some water through the tap of your fermenting set-up, to ensure no trace of the sterilising solution remains. After rinsing, seal the fermenter to prevent any contamination.  Please note: if your steriliser contains Sodium Metabisulphite, do not use this on your still. Clean your still with warm water immediately after use. 

Yeast Selection

The Yeast Chart gives details of the volume of water you will start with and the correct temperature of that water. For instance when using Classic Turbo Yeast and 6kg of Turbo Sugar you need 21 litres of water and the temperature should be 40 degrees Celsius. You will need a clear mark on the side of your fermenter to show the 21 litre level. 


Wash temperature is very important. If the Wash is too hot, the yeast may be killed off or weakened, and therefore may not be able to ferment out all of the sugar. Don't forget that in warmer times of the year, use a temperature-tolerant yeast such as Still Spirits Heat Wave. If the wash is too hot, then cool it as quickly as possible and add the yeast, as any delays can lead to contamination resulting in poor quality results. Using Classic Turbo as the yeast in the Wash means that you should ferment in an area where the room temperature is between 20º & 25ºC. If you are distilling in hot climates, you should use Heat Wave Turbo, a heat-tolerant yeast. 

At lower temperatures, the Wash will take longer to ferment, or in extreme cases, it may stop working altogether. 

If you are fermenting in a hot climate, an air-conditioned environment is obviously ideal. However, if air-conditioning is not an option, then try filling some PET soft drink bottles with ice and freeze them. These can be added throughout fermentation to control the temperature. 

Another method to try and control hot room temperature is to use the evaporation technique. Sit the fermenter in a tray with about 25mm of water. Drape some fabric over the fermenter so it dangles in the water (towelling or an old t-shirt is ideal). If it is still too hot, turn a fan on to the fermenter 

Instructions For Fermenting the Alcoholic Wash

Instructions vary with yeast selection - these instructions are for using a Classic Turbo Yeast with 6kg of Turbo Sugar. 

Fill your fermenter to about 19 litres with cold water and then add about 3 litres of very hot water. Check the temperature with a good quality thermometer and use hot or cold water to adjust the temperature to the required 40 C degrees. Remove a small amount of water to adjust the volume back to 21 litres. 

Then add 7 kg of Dextrose to the warm water in the fermenter and stir well to dissolve. When it is dissolved, the temperature should be just right to add your yeast but you should ensure the Wash temperature is in the correct range between 20 to 30 degrees Celsius. Check again with your thermometer and add one sachet of Still Spirits Turbo Yeast to produce an alcoholic Wash. 

Partly fill the “U” of the Airlock with water and fit it to the fermenter to prevent any oxygen, bacteria or insects getting in during fermentation. Within 24 hours, carbon dioxide should start bubbling through the airlock, as long as everything is working correctly and if the fermenter is sealed properly. 

Fermentation can take as little as 3 days if you are using a fast-acting yeast and the temperature is ideal. In cooler weather it can take up to 7 days. 

For the first 24 - 48 hours, heat is generated by the fermentation process. After this period a Brewcraft or Analog Heating Pad can be used in cooler weather to maintain the temperature. Do not use a Heating Pad in the first 24 - 48 hours. 

After Fermentation Ends

Fermentation is complete when the yeast has used up all of the dextrose/sugar. All signs of fermentation should be finished and the hydrometer reading will have remained static for two days. If in doubt, leave the wash for an extra day or two. 

Wash and sterilise the Wash & Spirit Hydrometer in cold water. Float the hydrometer into the Wash, and take the reading where the line of the liquid cuts across the scale on the hydrometer. The reading should be about 990. Ensure that you take great care when handling hydrometers as they are very delicate. 

If you want to further improve the quality of your spirit, you should allow the fermented wash to clear completely, before distillation. Still Spirits Turbo Clear is ideal for speeding up this process. 

Things to Watch Out For

If the gas does not start to bubble through the airlock, then loosen the top and have a look inside. The wash should be bubbling and will probably have a foam or froth on top. If the wash is not bubbling and there is no froth around the top of the wash then check that the temperature is within the recommended range. 

A vigorous stir at this stage with a sterilised paddle (not wooden) will speed up the fermentation process. Stir gently to start with, to avoid a froth build-up. If for any reason something has not gone to plan, don't worry too much. Just go to the FAQ section of this website as just about every issue you will come across is covered.


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