Our Journey Into Home Distillation

The heat was on low but I was still convinced it was going to explode.

The three of us stood nervously around the pot still, anxiously watching the temperature rise. We’d all grown up equally indoctrinated to the American horror stories of distillation. Images of toothless moonshiners, dressed in confederate civil war garb, standing  blind around a shaky cauldron. With each hiss of the stove top we would look at each other. Like anything else, this hobby has a learning curve.

Alembics Copper Still

But this isn’t America, we aren’t moonshiners,  and this isn’t a home-made still. This is the real thing- a 10 litre Alembic copper still. It is beautiful, in both form and function. Charlie from Alembics graciously lent us this still, so we can pursue this unique craft. Our aim is to document our growth and knowledge and I hope we can produce a spirit that does justice to the pot’s exquisite handcrafted aesthetic. Even if we can, it won’t be on our first run, these things take time.

Complete Still & Condenser

The whole process is a direct contrast to my instant lifestyle, filled with instant noodles, instant messaging and quick fixes. It is refreshing to take a Saturday morning and commit it to making something. New Zealand, along with various Baltic regions, lets you home distill legally and we aim to bring the distilling culture out of the backyard shed and onto the mainstream internet. Hopefully, we can document our journey to inspire others to take up this ancient craft.

Cleaning our new pot with organic ryemeal flour.
Cleaning our new pot with organic ryemeal flour.

Secondly, we aim to circumvent the corporate liquor culture. In the spirit of DIY,we want to get away from drinks that are made the fastest and cheapest way possible, made by mega-corporations. We want to recycle products, use sustainable ingredients (organic when possible) and focus on things we can source locally. We’ve tried to stay away from plastics, all plastics we do use are recycled or repurposed. All glass and bottles are second hand, mostly picked up from local thrift shops.  Most of our background knowledge comes from this distillation Wiki, which is a great community of home distillers. We have been sent product support from Alembics, who happen to ship internationally. Our local Lion-Nathan rep has also helped us with various products and knowledge.

As always, you can subscribe if you want to hear about; The Magic of Turning Beer into Gin, Day After Dooms Day (DADD’S) Brandy  &  110%  RainyDaze Potato Vodka.

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