Step 1: Choosing your base
First off, you'll need a base to start off with, and whiskey is by definition a grain-based spirit. So, you can start off with corn, rye, wheat, or barley -- or a blend of multiple grains. It doesn't really make a difference in terms of creation (though it obviously makes a difference in taste). But for the sake of this article, let's just assume you would use corn. "Corn would probably yield the most sugar, and that's what we're after. It will probably make things 'easier,' but that's a relative term here," Katz said. Meaning, no matter what, it's going to be extremely difficult. But corn is likely the least expensive grain to buy in bulk, and probably the easiest grain to work with on a small scale. You would need about 10 pounds to expect a reasonable amount of volume. That amount should equal out to about 5 gallons of final product.
Step 2: Cooking your base
You would have to cook the corn at an exceedingly high temperature to expose the sugars in the grains, and you'd want to cook it in water. While master distillers like Katz usually have apparatuses that can do this with exactitude (and on a much larger scale), it's a lot harder to time and to gauge the cooking on your own. "The easiest and simplest way to do this," Katz said, while also reminding everyone that you probably shouldn't do it anyway, "might be to get a home brewing kit for beer, and just use it as a distilling kit in the initial stages." For much of the process, you are doing this same thing, anyway. And with a kit, you can regulate the cooking and entire ordeal with an extra, guided hand.
Step 3: Starting fermentation
Once your corn is cooked and mashed (using a rolling pin is fine), it's yeast time! Meaning, this is when you add the all-important yeast to your cooked corn mush. Again, you might want to opt to repurpose a home-brewing kit to streamline the process. "You can ferment in any type of sealed container, technically. But you don't want it to be too hot, or the yeast will die. Most home brewing kits have made it easy to ferment alcohol in a controlled environment, so again, that might be the easiest option," Katz said. The fermentation period will probably take at least several days, and your pre-whiskey mushy mash will start to change in new and exciting ways. It's like puberty for whiskey bases. What a confusing time!