Unveiling the Truth: Debunking 6 Popular Misconceptions About Distillation

Unveiling the Truth: Debunking 6 Popular Misconceptions About Distillation


One of the most common distilling myths centers around whiskey stones. In theory, you put the stones in your freezer, add them to your drink, and then they cool the beverage without watering it down.

Well, it turns out that they don’t do the job very well.

Ice cools by turning from a solid to a liquid, a process that sucks the heat out of the drink. And this is a process that your whiskey stones will not be able to replicate (unless your whiskey is 1,000+ degrees Fahrenheit!). Plus, according to chemists, adding water can help improve its taste too!


There has been a lot of discussion about how every dent and knock on a still will alter the quality of the spirit.

While this could potentially be a risk, it doesn’t really seem to change much.

The distiller has a large number of variables during the process, and a small change in surface area due to a couple of dents shouldn’t really have an impact on the quality.


Is older whiskey always better and justifies higher prices? Well, to answer this question, let’s quickly back up and think about how whiskey gets its flavor.

Technically speaking, whiskey only takes a few days to distill and could be consumed right away. However, it would be completely clear and taste a little like malted barley mixed with rubbing alcohol. That’s not really what we think of as whiskey.

Whiskey’s classic smoky flavor and golden-brown color come from being aged in barrels and stored in a certain type of environment. Over time, the less drinkable parts of the new whiskey are drawn to the inner barrel walls. At the same time, the wood starts to contribute to the overall flavor.

Like most things, though, more doesn’t always mean better. Just because the whiskey is aged longer doesn’t necessarily mean it tastes better. It could actually acquire an overpowering flavor that makes it less drinkable.

It is possible for a spirit to become too old. Sometimes older is better—but sometimes, it’s just older.

ACE copper spirits alcohol column still


Another common myth is that moonshine causes blindness.

Can moonshine make you go blind? Yes and no. If it’s made incorrectly and/or if it’s made in old lead pipes, then yes, it can lead to blindness.


If the moonshine is not distilled properly, you could end up with high levels of methanol (methyl alcohol), which is indeed quite toxic. Our liver breaks down the methyl alcohol into formaldehyde and formic acid. And it’s the formic acid that can affect our eyes.

So, when distilled improperly, moonshine with high levels of methanol can cause blindness.

Lead Poisoning

The other way that moonshine could potentially lead to blindness is by making it in something lead-based. Using lead pipes or other items (like radiators) could cause lead poisoning.

For individuals making moonshine in their homes, there are real health risks that come from improper techniques. However, for moonshine from larger distillers, there is no more risk than with other spirits.


If you have a gluten allergy, do you need to search high and low for your favorite gluten-free vodka? Do you need to check with the bartender before you order that cocktail? Should you pore over that ingredient label with a fine-toothed comb?

No, not really.

Intuitively, it makes sense for people with gluten allergies to be wary of anything made with wheat. However, during the vodka distillation process, your basic ingredients (wheat, potatoes, etc.) are heated with water until they’re broken down and drained into a fermented liquid, which is then run through the still.

Once the distillation process has been completed, the finished vodka doesn’t have any of the gluten that it may have started with.


It’s true that better tasting vodka tends to be distilled more than once. But does distilling it more and more produce better and better-tasting vodka? Not exactly.

Each time vodka is distilled, there are fewer and fewer impurities. So, you could say that it is “cleaner” and “smoother” each time it’s distilled.

However, like aging whiskey for too long, you can actually over-distill vodka. The end result would be akin to pure alcohol without the sought-after taste and aroma of a quality vodka.

If a brand brags that their vodka is distilled hundreds of times, it could also be trying to mask the poor-quality materials it’s derived from. A similar example is that of piping hot coffee, which can be an easy way to mask the poor taste. Both are attempts to overcompensate and hide a low-quality product.

So, a high-quality vodka should be distilled an appropriate number of times.

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