Have you ever purchased alcohol from the bottle store, and thought to yourself, “I could do it better”? Well, you could do it right at home in fact! And it is not challenging at all.
Whether you want to distill vodka, whiskey, gin, rum or even tequila at home or even essential oils at home, it is now easier and simple than ever before. Here at DIY Distilling, we’re here to help you on this journey, and one of the first decisions is choosing the right still to buy!
Between our team we’ve bought, borrowed, and built more stills than we can count.
In this article, we’re going to share 9 of the best stills on the market that will be perfect for your needs.
The Best Still For Home Distilling In 2023
The best still for beginners getting started in home distilling is the T500 turbo still by Still Spirits. It’s by no means perfect but is good enough for people to learn to distill and learn The right way. It features interchangeable alembic and column heads for making neutrals and pot stilled products, as well as a respectable 25L boiler which is ample for home use.
What Type Of Still Do I Need?
There are many types of stills availbile, for all kinda of purposes. From refining petroleum, making essential oil and in our case, making alcohol.
For alcohol making we typically use two different still topologies;
- A pot still – For making flavored spirits like whiskey, rum, gin, brandy, and tequila.
- A reflux or column still – for making high-proof neutral spirits like vodka and the precursor to gin making.
How Do You Operate A Still?
Big question! And that’s the whole point of this website.
Learning to still is easy, but mastering it is an art. It will take lots of practice and experimentation to find what works for you and to perfect your craft.
Where to start? Our guides below offer a great starting point, or browse this site for a plethora of recipes and tutorials.
Distilling Guides: Want to learn more about how to make your favorite spirits at home? Check out our most popular guides below:
- How to make gin at home (4 recipes)
- How to make rum the easy way
- How to make tequila (well, mezcal..)
- How to make vodka from potatos
- How to make whiskey at home
What to look for when choosing a still:
But first, lets discuss the considerations you’ll need to make when choosing the right still for you
1. Boiler capacity
When chosing a still, I recomend you start with the boiler size an work back from there.
It’s important to note that boiler size is not equal to the amount of product you can produce. But, the math is sinple to firgure this out.
Example 1: A Pot Still
For example, for a pot still, your wash might be 5 – 12% ABV, and you output product will come off at about 40%-70% ABV.
For a 5gal (19L) boiler filled with 10% wash you’ll yeild 0.5gal (1.9L) of pure ethanol, which when proofed down to 40% ABV will yeild about 1.25gal (4.7L) of product.
We probably will loose 25% to various ineficiencies like heads, tails, and making generous cuts, so from a 5gal boiler you’re looking at just about 1gal of distiled product like whiksey, rum, tequila etc.
Example 2: A reflux still
*Yes, there’s a lot of ways round this. You could strip down multiple batches and combine in a final product run, or make a higher ABV wash – but my point is that your still needs to be much bigger than you might think it does!
Read more: this article explains exactly how much product your still will make and how to calculate it.
2. Heating Method And Power Rating
There are many methods to heat your boiler, and the best method for you will likely come down to the size of our still (see step 1).
- Electric Heating Elements
- Electric hotplate/induction
- Gas burner
- Steam / oil jacketed
To keep things simple we’d reccomend electric over gas as it’s cleaner, safer, and much easier to control.
If you’re using a small countertop still (less than 5gal) then an electirc or induction hot plate is the way to go. If you’ve got a bigger still then heating by immersed electric elements is the most effienceit and cost effective. For commercial stils, you’ll want to talk to your manufactuer about your specific situation.
Read more: in this article we discuss the best heating methods for your still and how to select one.
3. Material – Copper vs. Stainless.
This is a topic in itself, but let’s try to distill it down (see what I did there?).
The only two materials you should be considering are copper or stainless steel. Plastic should be ruled out right away as it is less durable, breaks down and leaches chemicals into your product, as well as aluminium pots which are more reactive and less durable.
Copper looks great, and is the quintessential ‘pot still’ look. While stainless is cheaper and more durable.
I would recommend you chose a stainless boiler as they will last longer and you can save money.
Read more: This article talks more about the differences between copper and stainless.
4. Control Method
For a pot still it’s not essential, but for a reflux still, it’s essential to have a good temperature control system.
It also depends entirely on your still topology, such as vapor management, cooling management, liquid management, CCVM, etc..
At the very least, you’ll want the ability to control the heat based on temperature readings and alcoholmeter readings.
5. Column Design
When sizing a still the most important factor is the column diameter.
In simple terms, the take off rate (how quickly you can produce alcohol) is directly proportional to the cross-sectional area of your columns. Since the column is round, we can therefore relate it back to column diameter.
I have a 4″ cooling management still for making vodka. It can produce azeotrope (95% ethanol) at around 5L per hour with around 4.25 kW input power.
If increase the power i can’t actually get any more product out, without the column flooding and the ABV dropping.
But, if I change to a 6″ column, which is roughly twice the internal area, then I’ll be able to take off 10L per hour
The Best All-Round Still For The Beginner?
First, let’s introduce the best still for a beginner.
If you want to go out and buy one product that will do *almost* everything you need it to, then this is a great place to start.
As you’ll see later on, there are different still for different purposes, and you may need 2 or 3 before you’ve covered all you bases.
#1. The T500 Turbo Still – By Still Spirits
The T500 Turbo Still (by Still Sprits) has become the go-to choice for novice distillers around the world, looking to better their craft – and for obvious reasons too.
This still has all the features of a larger (and more expensive) distillation column, packing into a counter-top size and at an affordable price.
However, before you bite the bullet and get one for yourself, it’s worth understating exactly what the T500 Turbo Still can and cannot do.
We’ve written a complete unboxing and review of the T500 here which you can checkout if you’d like more information
- INNOVATIVE DESIGN: Designed and assembled to be the world's most advanced fractionating column perfect for home use
- GREAT VALUE: You can save more money over time with this highly efficient system that accommodates large volumes.
- HIGH QUALITY: A sturdy stainless steel body combined with a faucet adaptor for ease of water flow adjustment. SAFE and EASY to OPERATE: Safe and easy to use which is ideal for the new distiller.
- EFFICIENT and FAST: Fast enough that it only takes half the time of the Turbo Air Still to do the same volume.
The Best Pots Stills (For Whiskey, Rum and Gin)
In this section we’re going to look at pot stills, from copper alembics to cheap and cheerful chineese stovetop designs that are actually really good!
#2. SLSY 1 Gallon Electric Alcohol Distiller Still
This countertop still is affectionately our runner-up. Why? because it makes things SO simple.
With an upgraded design, the SLSY one-gallon countertop distiller is here to brew you your favorite drink. This unit is multipurpose, and it can be used for distilling whisky, essential oils, fruit schnapps, grappa, rum and water. The end product is very clean, and it is usable as vodka, or better still, it can act as a base for essences to create almost any liquor. The boiling vessel and the cooling chamber are premium quality 304-stainless steel materials for reliability and durability. You rest assured that this water distiller is uniquely stable and durable for brewing and distilling whiskey, wine and other drinks as well.
Aside from that, this electric countertop still is hugely opted for because it is simple and convenient. Ideal homemade air still for both beginners and distiller lovers. Better yet, it is pretty easy to handle, and it’s portable as well. When you buy this model, you rest assured that you’ll get a 100% satisfaction guarantee, with a 30-day money return guarantee. What’s more, it is affordable, plus, you’ll get the value for your hard-earned money.
- 【 UPDRADED DESIGN 】- Slsy 1 gal countertop air distiller based on the design of a popular water distillation unit that has been factory modified for the option of alcohol distillation.
#3. ECO-WORTHY 5 Gallon Alcohol Moonshine Still
This moonshine still by ECO-WORTHY is a versatile kit you can rely on at home. The unit is used for making winery to distill hydrolates. Whether beer, vodka, tequila, brandy, whiskey, or wine, this still is a kit that will offer you all that. Also, since it features a thickened bottom, it enables a wide range of heating options such as wave induction heaters, firewood, coal stoves, electric ceramic stoves and gas stoves. Better still, all the parts of this unit are made using food-grade materials, high-temperature resistance and lead-free – rest assured, safety is the priority of this distillery kit. It is ideal for beginners to prepare liquors at home by themselves.
Furthermore, this three-pot liquor kit is ideal for making 50% alcohol. This liquor maker machine has two capacities of 8 and 5 gallons for you to pick. For the 5-gallon fermentation tank, you can expect it to ferment at least 1 gallon of wine. In addition, this kit is very easy to install and use. What’s more, the quality is unmatched.
#4. YUEWO 3 Pots DIY 2 Gallon Stainless Steel Still
YUEWO Stainless Steel Still is a professional distiller suitable for beginners and experts. It features a complete distillation kit that is easy to handle and install. And the three pots distiller offers convenience for brewing. This kit is made using non-toxic and safe red copper and stainless steel material for the material and construction. Plus, it doesn’t contain any lead in all its parts. Rest assured, all its parts all made using food-grade materials. In addition, the fermenter is very thickened, allowing different heat sources to be used. This home distillation kit features 2 gallons/10-liter capacity, a height of 9-inches and 9-inches diameter.
Aside from that, the built-in thermometer displays temperatures in both Celsius and Fahrenheit to make it easy for the operator to check the temperature when brewing. The free stainless steam plate with the gauze bag is ideal in preventing burnout and offers better results on distillation. Being a versatile unit, it meets all the distillation needs suitably. Moreover, this multipurpose unit offers you a wide range of way to use it. You can use this home distillation to distill alcohol, steam distillation, and seawater distillation. As per your preference, you can prepare a wide range of items in the stills like hydrosol, essential oils, winemaking, water distiller, whiskey, ethanol, alcohol, etc. Finally, durability and reliability are guaranteed because this unit has a quality build.
#5. VEVOR Stainless Steel Still w/Thermometer
If you’re looking for a great capacity fermenter, then this model by VEVOR will surely meet your needs. It comes with an 18.5-gallon capacity capable of distilling close to 17.5 rice at once by heating it to its boil and cooling for its vapor to condense. On top of that, the entire alcohol distiller kit is built using 304 stainless steel that is food-grade, not to mention its sturdiness and ease of use. Additionally, the lid of this unit comes with an additional upgrade – the lid has a sealing effect with welding joints that are rust-proof.
The impurity filtration system is excellent. With ceramic balls inside, the powerful rectifying tower can remove high boiling impurities in the vapor of the wine, offering the higher-purity wine entry to the condensing unit. The distillation purity is higher with a max output of 12.5kgs of fine alcohol with 50% content. Even better, this one-of-a-kind still delivers efficient condensation treatment thanks to its stainless-steel coiled tubes that offer rapid thermal conductivity. This feature offers excellent cooling performance, plus a large contact area, hence delivering a low-temperature distilled end product. Besides, during condensation, extra water circulating in the pump helps speed up the water flow of the agent of condensation.
Furthermore, this whiskey-making distiller comes with a thermometer that enables you to track in real-time the temperature of your alcohol. On top of that, it is also accompanied by a one-way air evacuation valve that helps release out air when fermenting the grains. Even better, this distilling kit comes with a vinometer for an accurate measure of wine degree. Of course, this is a versatile unit that can work with a wide range of heating methods such as coal stoves, gas stoves, firewood, and electric ceramic heaters.
Read More: This article compares all the Vevor still designs and explains what the key differences are.
- 18.5 Gal Stainless Steel Fermenter: Our alcohol distiller features a 70 L/18.5 Gal capacity, able to distill about 17.5 kg rice at one time by heating to boiling selectively and then cooling to condense the vapor. Besides, the whole alcohol distilling kit is constructed of 304 food-grade stainless steel, ensuring it to be sturdy and easy to clean. For this type, the lid has been upgraded, featuring an enhanced sealing effect and rust-proof welding joints.
#6. DONIKS 9.6 Gallon Steel Moonshine Still
With a US capacity of 9.6 gallons, DONIKS Moonshine Still Kit will make a good quantity of alcohol at home with ease. Your health and overall safety are guaranteed since it is built using food-grade stainless steel and red copper materials. Quality design is the other factor that makes this still kit an unrivaled machine. Also, it comes with special features that make it cool rapidly. The first is an open-type cooling method. Secondly, copper coils have a rapid thermal conductivity that delivers quick cooking. Even better, it features a large contact area where a coolant is situated for sufficient and instant cooling.
The kit also comes with a high-precision thermometer that can be detached. The thermometer can be replaced or removed without any hassle. The double display of Fahrenheit and Celsius on the lid makes it even more appealing. It is important to ensure the temperature is accurate when fermentation and distillation. Additionally, this kit is durable and sturdy.
Aside from that, it comes with a thickened bottom fermenter that allows for all kinds of heating options such as gas stoves, firewood, etc. As if that’s not enough, the four quick clips with a silicone gasket in the lid offer a tight sealing. This versatile kit also is best suitable for novices and experts for distilling water, distilling fruit wine, purifying water, refining plant extracts for medical use and distilling brandy.
- 【MOONSHINE STILL KIT】Moonshine still machine owns 9.6 us gal real capacity, Boiler barrel: 13.8" X 15. 7" ,condenser: 7". 9X 5",thumper: 7" X 4.3" .Constructed of safe red copper and stainless steel, all the parts are made of food-grade materials.
#7. AIMEE_JL New DIY 10L Home Brewing Kit
Though it looks cheap, this brewing kit by Aimee_JL was specifically designed for beginners. But that doesn’t mean that the experts are not considered; this can still work for them. This alcohol still is very easy to handle and install. Besides, it is made using safe and non-toxic stainless steel and red copper material. Not even a single part contains lead; the entire kit is made using food-grade materials. Moreover, the fermenter is very thickened to suit different heating sources.
Unlike other expensive models, this one comes with a double cooling system and a built-in thermometer. The extended metal condenser and a cooling tower play an important role in ensuring better condensation. The built-in thermometer displays its reading using Celsius to enable the operator to see the temperature as they run the distiller easily.
On top of that, it features a free stainless steam plate that prevents burn out and it ay much better when it comes to distillation. Then, another great reason why this is still regarded as the best is that it offers multipurpose usage. There’re countless ways you can use this powerful kit. You can use it for distilling alcohol, steam distillation, and seawater distillation. As per your preferences, you can prepare a wide range of items in this alcohol still like hydrosols, essential oils, winemaking, water distiller, whiskey, ethanol, alcohol, etc.
#8. SPEAKEASY 20L Stainless Steel Moonshine Still
This unmatched design produces the same to a pot still and maintains the flavor. Also, the two cylinders you can see at the top are a gin basket – that also functions as a double distillation chamber, a slobber box, and a condenser that is 4 feet long worm. Further, it can distill any spirit like a flavored vodka, mead, tequila, bourbon, whiskey, gin, etc.
Additionally, the second chamber is used for various functions – it can be used to flavor the spirit, produce second distillation, capture the still puking in case it runs too hot, and house a copper mesh. The valves found on the lower side of the second chamber also enable to get rid of the bad-tasting by-products of the fermentation process referred to as fuselol – known to cause a hangover. Compared to other brands, this superior still features a triple layer at the bottom that allows for the use of any heat source.
On the built quality, this kit is made using heavy-gauge 304 stainless steel and argon welded, made by avid moonshiners. Overall, the construction is truly solid. And that is not the end; a 10-year warranty backs it against any defects.
- CRAFTSMANSHIP - heavy duty build, thick stainless steel boiler 18/16 gauge wall/bottom. Engineered to support induction heating - magnetic bottom layer. Fast and efficient condenser - capable of producing up to 2 quarts/hour.
#9. BACOENG 3 Gallon Stainless Steel Alcohol Still
Are you looking for a portable and easy-to-handle moonshine copper still? Here is a better option that you can give a try by BACOENG. This alembic still is ideal for both beginners and experts. For the material and construction, bet on this because it is made using red copper and stainless-steel food-grade material that is non-toxic. Besides, it is very stable when it heats using an induction cooker, stove or any other heating source. This still has a capacity of three gallons.
In addition, the built-in thermometer displays temperatures in both Fahrenheit and Celsius to enable the operator to monitor the temperature with convenience. The lid of the still is also included. The condenser of this kit features an extra outlet to make circulating or emptying of water easier. Furthermore, you can use this copper ethanol still in a wide range of ways, such as distilling alcohol, steam distillation, and hydrodistillation.
Now, you can make all your favorite items using moonshine copper distillers like essential oils, vodka, tequila, bourbon, rum, scotch, and whiskey. What’s more, this kit comes with a still barrel, thermometer, small cooling pot, instruction manual, 35.4”-long silicone hoses x2, and exhaust seal valve.
- Copper Stills - great alembic still for beginners or expert distiller, portable and easy to handle.
The Best Reflux Still (For Vodka And Neutral)
To summarise, there are many options when it comes to choosing the right still. You’ll want to look at your needs, and what sort of spirit you want to produce, and work backwards from there.
Pot stills are great for whiskey, rum and tequila. While column stills are necessary for vodka and gin.
You’ll want some copper in the still somewhere to remove impurities, and then the final consideration comes down to how much product you want to product.
Remember: there is no ‘perfect still’ so don’t fret if you need to buy two or three as you grow and learn about distilling!