Shine on: Recipe for Minnesota 13 moonshine

  • Updated: November 8, 2013 - 3:18 PM

Barrels of Minnesota 13 in Eden Valley, Minn.

Photo: Minnesota Historical Society,

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Minnesota 13 was perceived as one product, but with hundreds of cookers, different recipes were used, and thus the taste and quality varied widely. This recipe, from “Minnesota 13: Stearns County’s ‘Wet’ Wild Prohibition Days” by Elaine Davis, combines several fairly consistent narratives.

• Put ½ bushel of Minnesota 13 corn seed to sprout in barrel of warm water at 75-80 degrees for 2-3 days.

• Add 75 pounds of sugar, 1 pound yeast.

• Let the mix “mash” for 5-7 days depending on the weather. Mix will bubble and make “whumping” noise, and needs to be stirred regularly.

• Use gunny sack or dish towels to strain corn out of mash.

• Pour one-half of strained liquid into a 50-gallon copper still. Use the rest to set the next batch (see below).

• Cook the mixture over a fire or gas burner to evaporation point (not boiling) and reduce to 95 degrees; cook. Steam vapor will enter coil, condense into whiskey in cold catch barrel and drip out bottom into jugs (yields 80-120 proof).

• Sell as first-run white lightning if desired, otherwise refine with a second cooking.

• Cook a second time to remove impurities and increase the proof for a premium whiskey.

• Add browned oak chips or brown sugar for desired brown color.

• Put alcohol in charred oak barrels for aging from five days to one month for flavor. Aging process can be speeded up by heating barrels, hanging them in trees for sun to cure, burying in a field or underneath horse manure piles (cow manure is too sloppy). Do not use lye to age.

• Turn, vibrate, or shake the “moon” to speed up aging.

• Strain with dish towels to get oak chips and residue out.

• Dilute with distilled water if desired to cut proof by half.

Remaining mash

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