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Frequently Asked Questions

  • Q. I live in the United States, are there any border-crossing or US Customs issues that I would have to face if I order products from Smiley's Home Distilling?
  • A. Not at all! All orders destined to a US address are shipped from within the US, and do not cross national borders.
  • Q. I've read about people going blind from drinking home-distilled spirits. Is there any danger of this?
  • A. Not a chance! Distillation doesn't produce anything in the finished spirit that wasn't in the undistilled mash, and the undistilled mash is simply a form of wine or beer and, as such, is no more harmful. Read the page on Health & Safety for further reassurance.
  • Q. I've heard of people getting lead poisoning from the solder used to fabricate homemade stills. Is there any danger of this?
  • A. This could conceivably happen if a still were fabricated in such a way that a large surface area of lead alloy (e.g. lead solder) were exposed to the distillate. An example of such a still would be a crude moonshine still which incorporated an old tractor radiator (hardly food-grade equipment) in its condensing system.

    In these books the equipment is made from plumbing components intended for potable water, and the instructions emphasize the use of lead-free plumbing solder.
  • Q. Why are governments in so many countries opposed to amateur distillation?
  • A. We believe that, in most cases, it is due to an inability to distinguish between concentration and amount. The authorities seem to believe that, because spirits are 8 times as strong as beer, people who drink vodka are 8 times as likely to become inebriated. This is not only na've but runs counter to experience.
  • Q. Could it be due to potential loss of tax revenue?
  • A. It can't be the sole reason because the amateur production of beer and wine is permitted, and both are taxed commercially.
  • Q. Can other spirits be made with the same equipment described in these books?
  • A. Yes, definitely! The equipment described in these books is capable of producing pure alcohol, which can be used to make gin, vodka, and essence-based spirits and liqueurs. Or, it can be used to produce whiskey, brandy, rum, and schnapps by employing a different distillation method.
  • Q. I am not a scientist. Is fractional distillation very complicated?
  • A. To some extent, but not as difficult to master as the making of wine. This is because there are no subtleties involved such as quality of grapes, type of yeast, fermentation temperature, etc. It's a straightforward scientific procedure which, given the same conditions, can be guaranteed to give the same results every time.
  • Q. How much does a litre of home-distilled spirits cost to make?
  • A. It runs about $1 per litre of 40% abv spirits. Whether you're buying corn or rye to make whiskey, or buying sugar to make pure alcohol for gin or vodka, the ingredients are very cheap.
  • Q. If I pay by credit card is there any danger of interception?
  • A. None at all. As you will see from the order form, the transactions are done on a Skipjack eCommerce secure server which encrypts the information to ensure complete confidentiality. Only the bank and the credit card company see your credit card information. Even we don't see your card number.
  • Q. Do you provide any follow-up service?
  • A. Absolutely! Readers who have difficulty understanding something in the books or are not getting the results they hoped for can send their questions by eMail and they will be answered within a day or two.
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