By Kay Steiger
Now that we’re back in a recession, perhaps the making of moonshine will take off. It certainly has for 62-year-old Jim Irvin (via this article in The State), who experimented with making sweat tea vodka our of muscadines and wound up becoming one of the most successful micro-distilleries in the country. Irvin plans to release a regular brand of vodka soon. The article does a good job of describing the evolution of the vodka hobby business, but what I found most fascinating (can you tell? I’m really into the idea of making your own booze) is the DIY instructions for vodka.
HOW VODKA IS MADE
Vodka is different from other spirits. While whiskey is made from grain and rum is made from sugar, vodka can be made from just about anything — potatoes, grains, beets, sugar, fruit and honey.
The secret is in the distillation.
At Firefly, it starts with the muscadine wine made at Irvin-House. The wine gets to 14 percent alcohol during the fermentation process.
Once the wine is ready, it goes in the still. There, through a series of temperature changes, the alcohol is captured. After that, it is mixed with sugar and tea (which is brewed and concentrated).
It then sits at least 48 hours before bottling begins.
Okay, so assuming I knew how to make wine, I could totally do this. I think. Does anyone have experience with distilling their own liquor? It seems like it’s not overly complicated, but comes with the potential risk of poisoning yourself.
Also, has anyone tried the Firefly vodka or know where you could get some in the DC area?