How To Make Watermelon Moonshine (The Right Way!)

Image of diy distilling how to make watermelon moonshine recipe

Watermelon moonshine is a fruity, delicious, and sweet drink you can make at home with simple ingredients and equipment. There are two main ways to make it: infused and distilled. 

Infused watermelon moonshine is made by combining the fruit’s juice with Everclear and spices, and letting the flavors meddle and marry for a couple of weeks. The distilled version calls for fermenting watermelon juice and then distilling it to produce a clear and potent spirit.

In this post, I’ll show you how to make both types, as well as some tips and tricks to perfect it. 

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What Is Watermelon Moonshine?

Watermelon moonshine is an alcoholic drink made from watermelons, sugar, yeast, and sometimes raisins. It involves the process of mashing, fermenting, and distilling the juice (wine) to produce a clear and potent liquor. 

What Does Watermelon Moonshine Taste Like?

Similar to the actual fruit, watermelon moonshine is sweet and fruity, but with an added kick. Its alcohol content can vary but it typically has around 40% ABV.

Watermelon Moonshine Recipe Variations

Option 1: Infused Watermelon Moonshine

Infused watermelon moonshine is the easiest and fastest way to make watermelon moonshine. The basic idea is to cut up a ripe watermelon, extract the juice, transfer the liquid into a jar, and top it with Everclear and spices. You can drink it straight away or let the flavors marry for a week or two. The longer you let the mixture infuse, the more flavor, depth, and complexity you’ll obtain.

Option 2: Distilled Watermelon Moonshine (A.K.A Watermelon Brandy)

Distilled watermelon moonshine, or watermelon brandy, is my favorite version. Similar to the infused one, you extract the juice from the fruit. The main difference is you add yeast and sugar to it, and let it ferment for a few days or weeks. Then, distill the wine to produce a clear, strong, and smooth spirit. I also like to age the final product to enhance its flavor and color, giving me a more pronounced brandy. 

Infused vs. Distilled–Which Is Best?

Though infused watermelon moonshine is easier and quicker to make, I recommend you try your hand at distilling your own because it’s fun and rewarding. It allows you to control the quality and purity of your spirit. You can also customize the flavor and strength by adjusting the fermentation and distillation parameters.

How To Make Watermelon Moonshine With Everclear

Here is how you can make watermelon moonshine with Everclear.

Ingredients

  • 6 cups of fresh watermelon juice (from 1 large ripe fruit or preservative-free store-bought juice)
  • 1 ½ cup sugar (you can adjust the sweetness to your liking)
  • 1  cup raisins or cranberries 
  • 1 tsp spice of choice (Great options are cinnamon, vanilla extract, or cloves)
  • ½ cup apple juice
  • 1 bottle of Everclear (750 ml)

Equipment

  • Large glass jar with a lid (at least 4 L/1 gal capacity)
  • Knife
  • Spoon
  • Skimmer ladle or slotted spoon
  • Fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth
  • Large pot
  • Food processor or potato masher

Time

  • Preparation time: 15 minutes
  • Infusion time: 7 days minimum

Instructions

  1. Cut the watermelon into small pieces, discarding the rind and seeds. If you’re using store-bought juice, skip to step 4. 
  2. Blend or mash the watermelon until it is totally pulverized, ensuring you release as much of the juice as possible.
  3. Strain the liquid through the cheesecloth into a large bowl, squeezing out as much juice as possible.
  4. Place the pot on the stove, pour the juice, and heat on low to medium heat. 
  5. Add the sugar, apple juice, and spice (if you’re using) and stir until the sugar’s completely dissolved.
  6. Add the raisins or cranberries. Simmer for 5 minutes. 
  7. Using the ladle, remove the raisins or cranberries from the mixture. Then pour the liquid into the jar.
  8. Pour the Everclear and shake well. 
  9. Seal the jar tightly and store it in a cool and dark place for at least a week.

How To Make Distilled Watermelon Moonshine

What defines moonshine/brandy

Brandy is an alcoholic beverage made from distilled wine or a fermented fruit mash. It’s purified in pot stills through batch distillation, and the final product usually contains 35-60% alcohol by volume (ABV). 

Ingredients

  • 10 large ripe watermelons (cut into small pieces, rind and seeds removed)
  • 2 kg /4 Ibs sugar (optional)
  • A packet of yeast, preferably Lalvin EC1118
  • 1 kg raisins, finely chopped
  • 1 Campden tablet (optional)

Equipment

  • Large bucket 
  • A large spoon
  • Hydrometer
  • Food processor, masher or paint mixer 
  • Fermentation bucket
  • Siphon hose
  • Cheesecloth
  • Pot still 
  • Thermometer
  • Storage bottles
  • Oak barrel or inserts

Time

  • Preparation time: 1 hour
  • Fermentation time: 2 weeks
  • Distillation time: About 4 hours
  • Aging time: optional

Instructions

  1. Pour the watermelons into the bucket.
  2. Blend, blitz, or mash them until they’re totally pulverized, extracting as much juice as possible.
  3. Siphon or strain the juice into the fermenter.
  4. Measure the specific gravity and adjust it to 1.065 by adding sugar if needed. 
  5. Add the raisins and campden tablet (if using). Let it sit for 24 hours. If you’re not using the tablet, pitch the yeast after adding the raisins and stir well.  
  6. Seal the fermenter and attach the airlock. 
  7. Store at 70°F (21°C) for about 7 to 14 days.
  8. Rack the wine into the boiler, leaving behind any sediment. 
  9. Run your still. First, perform a stripping run
  10. Perform a spirit run and make cuts.
  11. Age your moonshine for 6 months to a year to enhance its flavor and color.

Tips and Tricks

Here are some tips and tricks to perfect your moonshine.

Tip 1. Choose ripe and sweet watermelons for better flavor and yield

Ripe watermelons are always the way to go. They’re sweet and juicier, which is great if you want to forego adding sugar to your mash. When shopping, look for watermelons that have a (large) yellow spot on the rid, a brown stem, and a hollow sound when tapped.

Tip 2. Use good-quality yeast

Where yeast is concerned, I recommend champagne yeast, like the Lalvin EC1118. Not only can it produce high alcohol levels, it does not impart any unwanted flavors or aromas to the wine. This allows the natural fruit flavors to shine through.

Tip 3. Age your moonshine

Aging your watermelon moonshine will improve its quality and character over time. You can use oak barrels or inserts, to give your brandy the traditional vanilla, caramel, and woody notes.

How Long Does Watermelon Moonshine Last?

When properly stored–in a cool, dark place–watermelon moonshine can last indefinitely. Also, because of its high alcohol content, it’s less susceptible to spoilage. 

Final Thoughts

Watermelon moonshine is a refreshing drink worth enjoying with family and friends. Both infused and distilled methods are equally delicious, but the distilled version takes the cup. Because you’re in control of the entire process from mashing to distilling, you’re more likely to wind up with a smoother product with a pleasant mouthfeel. The basis of making a superb spirit lies in the ingredients you use. Pairing ripe watermelon with good-quality yeast can elevate your final product. To this, you can create your own true-to-tradition blend by aging it. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. How do you ferment watermelon for moonshine?

To ferment watermelon for moonshine:

1. Blend or mash the watermelon until it is totally pulverized, extracting as much juice as possible.
2. Siphon or strain the juice into the fermenter.
3. Measure the specific gravity and adjust it to 1.090 by adding sugar and water if needed. 
4. Add the raisins and campden tablet (if using). Let it sit for 24 hours. If you’re not adding the tablet, pitch the yeast and stir well.  
5. Seal the fermenter, and attach the airlock. Store at 70°F (21°C) for about 7 to 14 days.

Q. What is watermelon moonshine made of?

Watermelon moonshine is made of watermelon juice, yeast, sugar, and yeast nutrient

Q. What alcohol is best to soak watermelons in?

The best alcohol to soak watermelons in is one with a high alcohol content and a neutral flavor, like Everclear or vodka.

Q. How strong is watermelon moonshine?

Watermelon can be quite potent. Because it uses neutral spirit–Everclear or vodka–as the base, the alcohol content for infused moonshine can range from 40% to 95% ABV, while the distilled version ranges between 35-60% ABV.

Q. Is watermelon moonshine real?

Watermelon moonshine is real; it’s a fruit-infused liquor with a watermelon flavor.

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