How to Make a Sugar Wash at Home

sugar distilling

Written by Benjamin Parr

My passion for homebrew led me to set up KegThat! I work as a software developer during the day and manage kegthat on evenings and weekends. Occasionally I write some blog posts when I get the time!

22 February 2023

A sugar wash is a mixture of sugar, water, and yeast fermented to produce alcohol. It’s a crucial step in the process of distilling spirits such as vodka, gin, and whiskey. While the concept of fermentation may seem daunting, it’s a process that many wine or beer brewers are already familiar with. In fact, those who have experience with brewing may find the process of making a sugar wash quite similar to that of making beer or wine.

The process of making a sugar wash may seem daunting at first, but it’s actually quite similar to the fermentation process used in beer and winemaking. If you’re a home brewer who has had batches of wine or beer that didn’t entirely turn out as planned, you can still repurpose them for distillation purposes. While it may not be as cost-effective as using a fermented wash, it’s still a great way to reduce waste and experiment with new flavours and styles. In fact, even major commercial brewers have started repurposing their failed batches of beer into new spirits. For example, Scottish brewery BrewDog has been using its own beer to produce gin by distilling it and adding botanicals.


High alcohol spirit yeast

High-alcohol spirit yeast is a specialized strain of yeast that is able to tolerate high levels of alcohol. Regular bread or brewing yeast typically has a lower alcohol tolerance, meaning it will die off when the alcohol concentration reaches a certain level. High-alcohol spirit yeast, on the other hand, can survive in an environment with a high alcohol concentration and continue to produce alcohol until the sugar is fully fermented.

Using high-alcohol spirit yeast is important when creating a sugar wash for distilling because the goal is to produce high-proof alcohol. This requires a high level of fermentation, which in turn requires a yeast strain that can tolerate the high alcohol environment. Without the proper yeast strain, the fermentation process may be incomplete, resulting in lower alcohol content in the wash, this will lead to reduced efficiency in the distillation phase and mean wasted electricity.

Which is the right yeast for my sugar wash?

It’s important to note that when creating a sugar wash, it’s crucial to choose the right yeast strain for the job. There are many different types of yeast, each with its own specific characteristics and optimal environments for fermentation. Choosing the wrong yeast can result in a suboptimal fermentation process and a lower-quality final product.

Which yeast should I be using with the air still? You should only ever use the Triple Distilled yeast, Turbo Carbon and along with Turbo Clear for clearing when distilling with the air still. This pack was designed to be used specifically.

If you are fermenting a wash for the T500, the classic 8 turbo yeast is an excellent bet.


Glucose is a type of sugar that is commonly used in the production of sugar washes for distilling. It is a simple carbohydrate that is easily fermentable by yeast, making it an ideal source of sugar for creating alcohol. You can also use caster sugar, however, with glucose, you will have a much cleaner fermentation with hardly any sediment in the bottom.

Making your Wash

When it comes to making your sugar wash for distilling, it’s important to follow the instructions on the yeast packet carefully. Different types of yeast may have specific requirements when it comes to temperature, water volume, and sugar content.

In general, a common recommendation for making a sugar wash is to use warm water that is around 35 degrees Celsius (always use a thermometer to ensure accurate temperature), and a water volume of around 20-25 litres. This temperature is ideal for dissolving the sugar and activating the yeast, but it’s important to avoid using water that is too hot, as this can kill the yeast and prevent fermentation. You can start by adding the specified volume of water to the fermenting bucket.

To make your sugar wash, you can start by adding your sugar/dextrose to the warm water and stirring until it is fully dissolved. Then, you can add the yeast to the mix and stir gently to ensure that it is evenly distributed, you may find it takes longer to stir in the sugar if you are using caster sugar as opposed to glucose.

Once the yeast has been added to the sugar wash, you should cover the container and store it in a warm, dark place for the duration of the fermentation period. This is typically around 3-5 days, although the exact timing may vary depending on the specific yeast strain and the temperature of the environment.

Next Steps?

After you have made your sugar wash and it has finished fermenting, it’s time to begin the distillation phase. You may want to read some of our other distillation blogs for more information.

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