You can tell if it’s good if you light it and a blue flame comes up. That means it’s good moonshine and it won’t make you go blind - Johnny Knoxville
Moonshine is as American as Apple Pie, Chevrolet, and baseball.
Ingrained in history and folklore, it’s fueled more than its fair share of stories about outlaws and run-ins with the forces of law and order, and while it isn’t exactly legal (and by that, we mean that it’s actually illegal) to make ‘shine without a license, that hasn’t stopped generations of amateur distillers setting up their stills far from prying eyes in order to serve the needs of their thirsty communities and their empty pocketbooks.
The naughty but nice mythology that surrounds moonshine appeals to the spirit of rebellion and independence that helped to build America, and for nearly three hundred years moonshine has been an intrinsic part of our homegrown culture.
Every time it slips a little and starts to fade into the background, something happens to bring ‘shine right back to the forefront of whatever populist zeitgeist is driving the country.
And thanks to shows like Moonshiners on Discovery and South Carolina’s Firefly distillery, moonshine is on the rise again and is probably more popular than it’s ever been at any point in American history.
That sudden surge in ‘shines popularity is almost certainly why you’re here, as you’re probably keen to try your hand at distilling your own ‘shine, or want to hone and sharpen your moonshine making skills.
We get it, we’re on the same wavelength as you are, and having developed a taste for the illicit ourselves, we decided to follow a similar path.
It’s why we decided to put together this list of the best Moonshine Still kits that your hard-earned dollars can purchase so that the only hard work you have to do involves loading a still and making your own hooch.
Before we get down to the nitty-gritty of talking about which still will help to boost your shine making skills to the level where every jar you make is full of fine sipping, watch the sun slowly set liquid gold, we’re going to spend a few moments discussing shine and what you want to look for in a still.
It may sound a little boring, and you might want to skip straight to the bit where we get stuck into the stills, but trust us you’re going to want to stick around as the more you know about stills and moonshine, the better you’ll be at making it.
Are you ready? Then let’s get started…
Top Ten Moonshine Still Kits
We took a couple of weeks out of our schedule to devote ourselves to distilling with as many still kits as we could find, and through a process of elimination eventually managed to find ten of the best, and easiest still to use stills that anyone can use to joining the ever-growing legions of moonshine devotees and distillers.
And so without further ado, let’s start cooking moonshine…
OUR TOP PICK
Seeutek’s still is an all in one kit that you can either set up outside to get a taste of what it used to be like to cook ‘shine by the light of the moon (and yes, that’s where moonshine gets it to name from, late-night illicit distillation under the illumination b]provided by the moon) or on the stove in the comfort of your own kitchen.
Simple and straightforward, it uses an open-top cooling method, so you just need to apply a little heat and connect the cold water in and out valves, and you’ll be ready to start cooking shine.
As well as supplying just about everything that you’ll need to start distilling, Seeutek has also included a comprehensive and thorough users manual, to guide you through the incredibly easy setup and start you on your journey to moonshine nirvana.
- The Price Is Right - It’s a budget kit that’s well within the reach of any budding and would-be distiller and even if you only cook up the occasional batch, it won’t matter as this kit won’t break your bank and won’t unduly trouble your pocketbook.
- All In One - Everything you need to start making moonshine, it’s all right here in this remarkably well-equipped still kit. And as it’s easy to set up and simple to use, you’ll be able to start distilling almost as soon as you’ve taken it out of the box. Providing, of course, that you thoroughly clean it first.
- The Quantity? It’s Just Right - It’ll make just under three gallons of moonshine with each brew, but if that’s too much Seeutek also makes a one-gallon model, and if it isn’t enough, they also make a five-gallon still.
- You Get What You Pay For - Remember what we said about there being no free rides in the world for distilling? It’s a budget still and some of the components, the thermometer, and the inlet and outlet valves, for instance, feel cheap and probably won’t last as long as you’d like them to.
Another all-in-one still kit that won’t make your pocketbook weep or hurt your bank balance, the Trulystep is an easy to assemble distillers dream that’s ideal for both veteran ‘shiners and anyone looking to dip their toes into the world of home distillation.
A stainless steel still that uses copper piping, the Trulystep obeys the rule that our distilling guru taught us and keeps everything simple so that you can focus on doing the thing that matters the most, making moonshine.
And thanks to its straightforward ingenuity, it doesn’t matter what type of ‘shine you want to try your hand at making, whether it’s mountaintop whiskey or backwoods brandy, the Trulystep will take it all in its stride.
All you need to do is add water, grain, your own secret ingredients, and heat and it’ll do the rest. What more could you ask for in a still?
- Keep It Simple, Stupid - The Trulystep adheres to the same golden rule that we do. It’s simple to set up and easy to use, and a perfect still to find your footing and refine your own ‘shine recipes with.
- Pocketbook Friendly - Even though it’s a little more expensive than the Seeutek still is, Trulystep is more than an affordable way to find your feet in the moonshine world. And it’ll deliver five gallons of your chosen moonshine every time you cook a batch, which is more than enough for any household.
- It’s A Quality Thing - Again, it feels like WMN designed the still to fit a price point instead of making it and then deciding the price when it was ready. In other words, some of the components feel a little flimsy and cheap, and probably won’t last more than a couple of years, so you might have to upgrade to a full copper still before you’re actually ready to make the move.
If you’re looking for a still that effortlessly combines quality and quantity, this all-in-one, ready to rock and roll and bring your shine to the boil kit from Vevor, could be just the still that you’ve been searching for.
It includes everything that you’ll need to get started, and unlike the other stills on our list, the Vevor doesn’t just make three or five gallons of moonshine at a time, it makes nine and a half gallons of whatever spirit you want it to distill.
That’s right folks, you didn’t misread that last sentence, we really did say that this still will make nine and a half gallons of moonshine every single time you start batching.
It’s easy to set up, simple to use, and thanks to a little engineering ingenuity, can also be used to brew beer and make wine if you want to add a few extra arrows to your home distilling quiver.
- Easy Setup - The Vevor is simplicity itself and you don’t need a degree in rocket science to figure out how to put it together and start distilling with this frankly remarkable, not-so-little still.
- Size Matters - You know what we said about quantity? Well, you can throw that advice out of the window, as this monstrous distiller can make more than enough moonshine to keep your entire neighborhood happy. Just make sure that if you do share its wares that whoever you end up sharing it with knows how to keep a secret.
- Heating Up - While it feels sturdy and strong and it seems like Vevor hasn’t scrimped on quality, this still does have one teeny tiny drawback. It doesn’t, and won’t work on induction stoves, which was, and is frustrating and we wish we’d read the small print before we started trying to fire it up.
No, you’re not alone, before we fired this still up for the first time we hadn’t heard of OLizee either, and after sampling the brandy (we chose to make brandy with it, as the name sounded slightly French so we figured that it was an appropriate spirit to distill) that it made, we don’t care what else they do and make, they won our hearts with this eight gallon beast.
What was, and is, especially gratifying about this Olizee still, apart from the fact that it’s complete and easy to set up, is that the kit also includes a thumper keg, which makes it even easier to add additional flavors to your distillation.
If you’re in the mood to try something different and experiment with tried and tested recipes and ideas about what you can and can’t do with moonshine, then Olizee’s eight-gallon still kit might be the still for you.
- It’s Easy Like Sunday Morning - As The Commodores so eloquently put it, the OLizee is “easy like Sunday morning”, and is just about ready after a pre-distillation clean, to start cooking whatever variety of moonshine you want it to straight out of the box.
- Get Thumping - The Thumper keg was, and is a revelation. We distilled our first batch of apple brandy with the OLizee, and it was just as good as we hoped it would be. We’ll definitely use it to make another batch as soon as we’ve finished the eight gallons that we made the first time around. Which, according to our calculations, should be sometime in the next couple of years.
- A Little Ragged Around The Edges - Some of the seals aren’t quite as tight as we’d like them to be, and it is prone to leaking, but that can be fixed with the right tools and we’ll be better prepared, and it’ll be fully tightened the next time we use it.
If you want to make moonshine the traditional, old-fashioned way there’s only one still that you’ll ever need, or want.
In fact, as it’s so well-engineered and designed, it’ll last a lifetime, which means that Clawhammer’s five-gallon copper still really is the only one that you’ll ever have to use to distill whatever kind of shine it is that you want to make.
It’s a precision-engineered still that needs to be slowly, and lovingly assembled, and anyone who has ever used a soldering iron and is pretty good with their hands should be able to put it together in a day by following the comprehensive video instructions that Clawhammer provide a link to when they send you the still.
And yes, it looks just as good in the real world as it does in the picture.
- Old School Baby, Old School - This is about as close to old school, illicit, backwoods distilling as it’s possible to get in this tightly regulated, officious digital age. If you want to make whiskey and brandy the way that the pioneers and the outlaws of old did, then this is still for you.
- Copper Still, Copper Price - It’s a little on the expensive side, and doesn’t come with everything that you’ll need to start cooking a batch of moonshine. Before you start distilling, you’ll need to take a trip to the hardware store to pick up the other bits and pieces that you want, which just adds more to the final cost of the still.
- Self-Assembly - You need to put it together yourself, so if you’re not very handy and don’t know one end of a hammer from the other, you’ll probably be better looking elsewhere, as this probably isn’t the still that you’re looking for.
This is probably one of the best stills that we’ve ever been fortunate enough to use. It’s a hand-wrought, copper still that’s easy to assemble, use, and cooks some of the best shine that we’ve ever tasted.
Truthfully, it’s better at distilling brandy than whiskey, but as we’ve always been more than a little partial to the former, that isn’t a drawback, it’s a bonus in our moonshine book.
And, unusually for a copper still this magnificent piece of art is ready to go (almost) straight out of the box.
It comes with everything that you need to start making your own mountain-style moonshine and works with just about every heat source, even induction stoves, available. It’s our double thumbs-up, brandy making still of choice.
- All Copper - Remember what we said about copper stills being better than just about any other still you could use to make ‘shine? Well, this Alembic all-star proved our point. As we’ve already said, it’s probably the best still we’ve ever used.
- Hand Made - And it’s hand-made right here in America. It’s a homemade still that was designed to carry on making moonshine the way it’s always been, and should always be made.
- It’s A Bank Buster - The only thing that we don’t like about this still is the staggering price that will literally drain every spare cent from your bank balance. It isn’t cheap, but then you wouldn’t expect a hand-wrought copper still to be, would you?
After all the excitement and the hoopla of the full copper, pocketbook draining experience of the last still, it was nice to come back down to Earth with a comfortable bump and get to grips with Goetland’s all-in-one still kit.
It’s easy to set up and simple to use, and even though the instruction manual reads like it’s been directly translated from whatever language they speak in Goetland’s native country, as the still is so straightforward, the next to the useless manual isn’t a problem that you’ll need to worry about.
And unlike a lot of other similarly priced stills, the Goetland does work with induction stoves, which means that it can transform any kitchen into a home-based distillery.
Just be careful who you tell about your new venture, as some folks don’t know when to keep their mouths shut.
- All You Need - Everything that you need to start distilling after you’ve cleaned the Goetland, is included with the kit. It’s easy to set up and even simpler to use. If we weren’t so obsessed with copper, we’d be tempted to say that it’s an almost perfect introductory level still.
- The Price Is Definitely Right - And the price that you’ll pay for this five-gallon still kit (which comes with a three-month warranty) further reinforces what we’ve already said about it. It’s almost perfect for any would-be distiller who wants to try their hand at making moonshine.
- The Instruction Manual - It’s next to useless, so just throw it in the trash and go with your gut. The still is completely intuitive and you’ll be able to figure it out without the book.
It was only ever going to be a matter of time until the digital age embraced distilling and imbued it with the sort of technological magic that made it child's play.
The Still Spirits Turbo Air Still is one of the world’s first plug-and-play stills that runs on electricity and doesn’t need water to cool it down, as it uses its own in-built air cooling system.
Designed to work straight out of the box, just plug it in, fill it up, read the easy to follow instructions, switch it on, and stand back and the Still Spirits will turn one gallon of water into whiskey in record time.
There’s no mess, no fuss, it just does what generations of moonshiners have been doing for centuries with the aid of a little electricity. We really are living in an age of miracles.
- Plug And Play - It is quite literally a plug it in and press go one-button distilling marvel. And much as we’d love to find fault with it, as it takes a lot of the fun out of making ‘shine, if you’re too busy to devote the amount of time that it takes to make good moonshine, then this could be the answer to your prayers.
- It’s A Little Small - The Still Spirits doesn’t exactly brew a lot of moonshine, and can only make a single gallon at a time. Granted, a gallon of distilled alcohol isn’t to be sniffed at, but we kind of like being able to make at least three gallons at a time. It’s our moonshine safety net.
- It’s Expensive To - It might be convenient and miraculous, but it’s also an incredibly expensive way to make a single gallon of booze.
Another budget shine-making still kit, the Yuewo comes in four different sizes, from two gallons all the way up to eight gallons, but we tried and fell a little in love with the sweet spot, three-gallon still.
Simple to set up and easy to use, this three-gallon still kit has been designed to be used with any heat source, so you whip up a batch of shine in the comfort of your kitchen or while you’re gathered around the campfire with your nearest and dearest.
The thing that really sold us on the Yuewo though, was the incredibly short distilling time, as depending on what you’re cooking up, it only takes between one and five hours to fill that three-gallon bucket up with ‘shine.
If you don’t have the sort of free time that long, slow moonshine needs, then put your faith in Yuewo and start brewing in the fast lane.
- Quick Time - The Yuewo will turn your moonshine around in record time and even though it works quickly and efficiently, the ‘shine it makes tastes just as good as it does from stills that take twice as long to cook it up.
- It Won’t Break The Bank - It’s affordable, comes with everything that you need to start distilling ‘shine, and is ridiculously easy to set up and use. It’s the gateway to moonshine paradise.
- Keeping The Proof Down - While a few new moonshiners have complained that the speed at which the Yueow brews reduces the ABV (alcohol by volume) content of its brew, it still makes ‘shine that clocks in with an ABV of fifty percent, which is stronger than any off the shelf brandy, bourbon or vodka that’s available in the United States. We honestly don’t understand what the naysayers are complaining about, but each to their own…
For the last of our top ten moonshine still kits, we thought that we needed to go big, and when we say big we mean really, really big.
That’s why we went with this monster from Vevor, which can make eighteen and a half gallons of moonshine in a single brew. And that’s more than enough mountain top whiskey to float anyone’s boat.
It’s a complete, easy to set up and use, all-in-one kit that anyone can master and get to grips with in a couple of hours, and given the amount of illicit alcohol that this versatile (it can also brew beer and make wine) eighth wonder of the modern world can make, the seemingly high price point doesn’t actually feel that bad when you do the math.
It’s the kind of still that we’re happy to put our weight behind, and name to.
- Huge Capacity - Did we mention that it can brew eighteen and a half gallons of hooch at a time? We did? Good, we just wanted to make sure.
- Easy Set-Up - It’s easy to set and simple to use, and versatile enough to brew beer and make wine too. It seems like a no-brainer to us, but then we always did like to make a lot of booze.
- It’s Good News Week - And by that, we mean that there are absolutely no drawbacks to this still. Just about everyone who has ever used it loves it. It’s a round trip, return ticket to moonshine land.
Best Moonshine Still Kits Buying Guide
Choosing A Still
Making great moonshine is a skill that can take a dozen lifetimes to master and get right, and trying to decide which still to invest your time, money, and labor in if you’ve never brewed a batch of shine is akin to trying to decide which state makes the best bourbon, Kentucky or Tennessee. It’s nigh on impossible.
No two stills are the same, and while some are great whiskey-making monsters, others are brandy behemoths that’ll put a smile on the face of anyone who takes a sip of the nectar that they’re responsible for creating.
And that’s part of the problem, the fact that every still has its own specialty makes it harder to find the right one, and that’s why we’re here. To help guide you in the right direction and pin the moonshine tail on the still that’s right for you.
Put a pot of coffee on, this might take a while, but we guarantee that it will be worth it and that by the time you’ve finished reading, you’ll be ready to fire up your very own still and start making your own brand of moonshine.
Copper Or Steel?
The first roadblock that any new distiller has to overcome is choosing whether to follow the steel or copper path.
In other words, you’ll need to decide whether you want to make your ‘shine with a copper still or one that’s been forged from stainless steel.
We’ve always been more inclined toward copper, but that’s because we took a trip to England about a decade or so back, and while we were there, we took a tour of a Cyder Farm in Cornwall, and they’d just started distilling the first Whiskey ever made in the county, and they’d just had this beautiful copper pot still installed to begin distilling it.
Right then and there, we were sold on copper and knew we wanted to do things the same way when we flew home.
But just because we’re committed to the copper cause, it doesn’t mean that you have to be, as stainless steel has its own virtues, and in order to try and remain as impartial as possible (which was more than a little difficult given what we’ve just told you), we thought we’d take a few moments to highlight some of the pros and cons of both kinds of stills.
Copper - There’s a simple, undeniable truth that every veteran distiller knows all too well, and that’s the fact that you’ll always get a better finish and taste if you use a copper still.
And any amateur scientist or culinary wizard will happily tell you that copper is better at conducting and retaining heat than stainless steel is, which means that stills that are made from the alloy are much easier and simpler to work with than their steel counterparts.
It isn’t all good news though, as copper stills can be expensive and even the entry-level kits aren’t exactly cheap.
And given that you’ll probably have to put the still together (almost every copper still needs to be assembled, which means you’ll either need to know how to use a soldering iron or learn how to use one before you can start distilling) yourself after burning a hole in your pocketbook to buy it, makes purchasing one an especially bitter pill to swallow.
Stainless Steel - Then there are stainless steel stills, which are an affordable and reliable way to become an amateur distiller. The price difference between copper and stainless steel stills ensures that the bright and shiny models are always a hit with newbies.
Who knows, you might decide like other distillers before you have, that you love working with steel and won’t want to try working with the competition. It’s happened before, and it will undoubtedly happen again.
Stainless steel stills are also built to last, and they’re simple and straightforward to clean and ninety-nine percent of the time, they’re far less complicated to put together than copper stills are.
There are however a couple of drawbacks to choosing a heart of steel for your moonshine.
The finish and taste won’t be as good as it would be if you were using a copper still, and over time you’ll find that the residue from the distilling process, regardless of how thoroughly you clean your still, will gradually begin to build up. It’s the price that you have to pay for cooking with steel.
And The Winner Is - Expecting us to pick a winner without prejudice isn’t really fair, as we’d always raise the hand of copper high in the air after the final round.
Yes, copper is more expensive, and realistically it’s an option that you should only pursue if you’re serious about distilling shine and intend to stick around the long haul, but it will produce higher quality, better-tasting spirits.
That said, stainless steel isn’t a slouch when it comes to making moonshine, and as it's cheaper than copper, it’s much easier and to begin your distilling career and learn all of the fundamental things you’ll need to know in order to make a great tasting product with a steel still.
The Still Watchlist
You’ve probably made your mind up about whether you’re going to invest your fortunes in copper and spend a little and see where fate takes with your stainless steel, and now that’s out of the way, it’s time to look at some of the other still specific issues that should help you to determine what you do and don’t want in a still, which in turn will make it easier to sniff out the right still for you.
Some Assembly Required - We’re all more than familiar with that tagline, aren’t we? And most stills need at least some assembly, but if you’re not exactly handy and aren’t comfortable using a soldering iron and doing a little pipework, you’ll feel more at home with a still kit that’s simple and straightforward to put together.
Quality Is As Important As Quantity - Everyone loves a bargain and we all like to feel as though we’ve stumbled across the deal of the century.
Unfortunately, if the price of a still seems to be too good to be true, it’s probably because it is.
Most of the time, cheap stills are made from cheap materials, and if there’s one thing that you don’t want to cut corners on (unlike the manufacturers of cheap stills who are happy to cut, cut, and cut some more) when you’re distilling alcohol, it’s the quality of the materials that your still is made from.
If you think the price isn’t quite right, do a little online research and see what the reviews have to say about the still.
Unhappy customers will always shout louder than happy customers, and if there are any problems with the quality of the still, then the reviews will highlight them.
Before you buy a still, dig as deeply as you can into its background, and only lay your money down when you’re completely satisfied that it’s been built to do the job that it was meant to do.
Let’s Talk About Quantity - Realistically, how much moonshine are you going to make and drink? Even if you take your friends and family into account, the chances that you’ll need to cook up more than five gallons at a time are slim to non-existent.
If you don’t intend to spend your evenings and weekends in an alcoholic stupor, you really don’t need to make more than five gallons of moonshine at a time.
Maintenance 101 - An old buddy of ours who prompted and inspired us to make our distilling journey taught us a simple credo - “Keep it simple, stupid”, and it was a missive that we took to heart.
Unless you want to waste an undue amount of time taking your still apart and cleaning it piece by piece and then carefully reassembling it after every distillation, make sure that the still you choose is easy to clean and maintain and won’t spend as much time in bits being scrubbed as it does making ‘shine. Keep it simple and you won’t go wrong.
Bringing The Heat - How you heat the still of your dreams is just as important as the still is, so don’t put all of your faith in what the manufacturer tells you.
A lot of manufacturers will insist that their stills work with just about every gas, electric, and propane stove on the market, and sometimes, that just isn’t true.
If you want to avoid a little unnecessary heartbreak before you set your still up, use your newest friend Google to find out all that you can about the still that had made your blood pump faster and your soul flutter.
Almost every review will highlight which stoves will and won’t work with a still, and some due diligence and a couple of hours spent online finding out as much as you can will help you to ensure that when your still does arrive, you’ll be able to set it up and start making moonshine in hours instead of days.
Getting Ready To Make The First Batch Of Moonshine
There are a few sure and steady rules that you should follow and take to heart before you make your first batch of moonshine, and we’re going to run through them with you so that you’ll know how to cook and distill your late-night brew safely and won’t come to any harm or fall victim to misadventure when you fire up your still.
Be Clean, Be Cool - Before you fire up your still, clean it as thoroughly as you can. Soak the rubber tubes in warm, soapy water and then clean them in cold water and run at least four cups worth of white wine vinegar through the still, and then flush it out with cold water before you start brewing your first batch of moonshine.
Remember what your grandma used to say about cleanliness being next to Godliness? It’s as true for moonshine as it was, and is for church.
Enough Is More Than Enough - Heat makes everything expand, boil and bubble, so if you want to keep things as clean as possible while you’re making your moonshine, don’t fill the still to capacity.
Aim for about three-quarters of what your still can make, and you should get a clean, pure distillation every time you cook your ‘shine.
It’s Never The Whole Picture - Unless you opt to use a complete still kit (and even then you’ll almost certainly need a few tools to put the still together), you’ll probably need to fit a few little extras (like copper piping and rubber tubing) to your still before you load, and fire, it up.
Make a note of what you’ll need so that you’ll have everything on hand and ready to go as soon as you’ve put your still together.
Oil And Alcohol Don’t Mix - One of the ways that a lot of manufacturers get around individual state laws concerning the production of alcohol is by advertising their stills as essential oil makers.
It’s true, they can and will make essential oils, but whatever you do, don’t use the same still to make oils and moonshine, as it can have an incendiary effect on your still and your home.
And when we say incendiary, what we really mean is explosive as a combination of oil and alcohol (even in the most minute quantities) can turn your still into a bomb.
Go Slowly - Patience is a virtue, and when you start cooking your first batch of moonshine, as tempting as it might be to turn the heat all the way up straight away, it can be lethal for your still.
You need to let your still get used to being warmed up gradually. Start low and go slow and carefully turn the heat up when you need to, and that way your still will be safe and your ‘shine will always taste divine.
A Word Of Caution
Even though prohibition ended almost a century ago, it’s still illegal in most states to distill any form of alcohol, for both personal use or profit without the right permits.
The laws in every state vary, so it’s worth finding out what the law concerning alcohol production is in your state before you decide to invest in a still.
And it’s also worth an hour or two of your time to apply for the permits that you’ll need to run your still legally.
If you do, you’ll know that you’re on the right side of the law, which most long-time moonshine makers are still (pardon the terrible pun) trying to get used to.
Parting as the bard so famously said is such sweet sorrow, but we hope that you’ve found the still that you were looking for on our list and that you can now take the first step on your journey to becoming a bona fide distiller with confidence.
It’s time to bid you farewell, for the moment at least, but maybe one of these days, somewhere down the line, we’ll get to share a jar of moonshine and swap a still story or two. Until then, happy brewing…