What Charcoal Filtering Does
Charcoal filtering your hooch is how you make whiskey that is top notch, has a great flavor and is smooth sippin’ . There are different methods of doing this and the one you use will depend on what you like your whiskey to be. I’ll tell you how to charcoal filter your hooch with sugar maple charcoal.
The two methods commonly used by distillers is either to let it fill up and stay in until ready or drip through. Both ways are said to be the best by the people that use them. You will just have to decide for yourself which one is better.
You Need a Filter
You need to either have a filter that is about 10 feet tall or a filter that holds the whiskey in long enough to do it’s job if you want it to filter real good. Jack Daniels uses a 10′ tall barrel that is filled with charcoal. The whiskey is dripped through it and takes 5 days or so to run out a batch. Other distillers fill up the filter and allow the whiskey to soak in charcoal.
Building Your Filter
First you need a filter. So what you are going to do is build one. You can use this Homemade Charcoal Filter . It works well and cheap and easy to build. It filters a half gallon at a time.
Now if you want a real big one or just a bigger one you can scale that up. The famous Hooch Bird uses a old whiskey barrel converted over to a filter for his big tasty batches. You probably do not want one that big so I would say if you have a gallon or more to filter then just think of anything that will hold it. A local scrap yard would be a good place to go for a stainless steel tube of some sort.
The filter housing does not make any difference really as long as it is not going to react with the alcohol and leech off any bad stuff. How ever a oak barrel is going to also add in good flavors. You could use food grade bucket or pipe if you wanted to. Depending on the method you plan to use you will need to make your filter either big enough to hold all your alcohol at one time or tall enough to allow it to drip through slowly.
The thing with filtering is it needs to stay in that filter long enough to get the job done. l let mine run through at a rate of about 1/2 gallon per hour or so. I use the tube in my how to article. It takes about 1 week to really make some good smooth sippin’ whiskey. I am not that patient so I go fast. I gotta get my drunk on!
Okay so the details. Not much to it.
Method 1. Dripping filter:
If you want to do like Jack does then drip your whiskey into the filter and let gravity do it’s thing. Build your filter tall and as big around as needed to hold the amount you plan on filtering. You can either build it bigger around or taller. The difference is going to be that if it is bigger around you are going to have to devise a system for dripping the booze in slowly and dispersing it evenly around the charcoal. This can be accomplished with pipe with tiny holes drilled in it and laid in a grid across the surface. You would then attach the pipe to your container of booze. A small hole in top of container would allow air in and a little booze out into the pipe system.
If you make it tall it is easy. Just drip it in through a funnel. Customize the funnel so it has a small hole. Only about as big around as a toothpick perhaps. The way to make it drip slowly and evenly without you having to stand there and keep filling up the funnel will require another piece of equipment. Not to worry as I am the master at improvised stuff. It says so on that piece of paper I got from the online improvised stuff college.
To make a container that drips simply use a 2 liter bottle or similar and poke a small hole in the cap and a smaller hole in the bottom. The bottom is to let air in and the cap to let booze out. As the air comes in pressure will build and push the booze on out into the filter. You will need to experiment by starting out with a needle size hole in the bottom and working up till you have the right amount of air pressure going in. Easier than filling up that funnel all the time.
Just stand the bottle up over the filter and let it drip on in. If you plan on allowing plenty of time for filtering then you will need to make the hole in the bottom of your filter very small but not so small that the filter overflows. This is why you also need to make sure that your filter can hold the amount of alcohol you plan on dripping in it.
Method 2. Holding Filter
Make the filter any dimension you want as it is not going to matter. The only thing you need to consider is the outlet. So if you had a piece of pipe capped off on one end you would need to drill a hole in it to let out your filtered hooch. As you do not want it to drip out you would need to install a valve in it. Stainless steel or brass valve is rather expensive, I would use nylon. If you can not thread the hole then simply use food grade silicon sealer.
You can get what I use for my brewing needs for $5.95 Silicone RTV 4500 FDA Grade High Strength Silicone Sealant, Black (2.8 fl.oz) . This works real good. Use it for your mash tun also and to seal the top on them pot stills that are made out of steel pots. No more making a gasket to seal off that upside down lid dome.
Sugar maple charcoal is the stuff to use. You can get it from me in small quantities if you do not want a bunch. Just head on over here 1 Lb sugar maple charcoal
You can also make your own if you can get your hands on some sugar maple. It is easy but does require a hot fire in the 2000 degree range . If you can’t build a bond fire at your house you can always put it in a BBQ and light it up. I burn in an old round smoker. You know them kind they sell real cheap at the store. Cut some extra holes in it so it gets plenty of air.
Pile up your wood and spray it down with some alcohol. Them fusels you toss out are a good choice for this. Put them to use. Get the fire going good and let it burn about 2 1/2 hours. that would be using 2×4 sized boards. spray a little water on it to stop the burning and let it cool and grind it up.
After grinding up your charcoal it needs to be cleaned. If you are using a small amount just use a hair dryer or other source of clean air to blow away the dust. An alternative is to wash it with distilled water and dry it out. That is what I do.
Fill her up and put the booze to it. If your hooch runs out black from charcoal dust just pour it in again. This is the reason I put a filter paper in the bottom of my filter.
Use food grade high temp RTV to seal off any thing brew related you don’t want to leak.
Do not use coffee filters to filter anything but coffee. Use a paper towel or a napkin. Yep they work 100% better and not just for booze but other things like precious metal refining and other lab related stuff.
Clean your charcoal of dust
Send all good booze to me. I will test it for you and make sure it is of fine drinking quality. I will need at least a half gallon as I have a big mouth.