What is in moonshine?

These are the figures of a home made ('moonshine') whisky which I ran over a gas/gas chromatograph (fid and ecd) and I was curious if there are whiskies with these amounts of isoamylalcohol and methanol... According to me, this whisky was badly fermented and the middle cut was way too late. [Figures for some commercial whiskies are given for comparison] [jvds, pm 5/3.98]

ethyl propionaat0.480.720.720.401.040.801.601.600.13 
opt act. Amylalc200.00298.40172.48199.20204.80204.80197.60156.80311.25 
diacetyl        5907375
pentaandion        76950


I was told that this whisky was "already" three years... Of course I tasted it, and I was very suprised about the amount of "flowery" smells. It was so overwhelming. I felt like Doctor Who transported in a candy shop... [jvds 5/3.98]

Hangover-causing nasties such as methanol are still within the malt distillate range, though the fusel oils are on the high side. [pm]

The only problem I can see there is with the DMS. I'll lay a bet it tasted like chewing on a hot car tyre [opinions varied on this but generally reckoned the sample would taste like industrial effluent and its main value was as weedkiller... - jhb]

I tried some moonshine recently - 1 each of "Scotch", "Bourbon" "brandy" and "rum". Well, that's what the bottles had originally contained; they differed mainly in the amount of added caramel. [pw 5/3.98]

The range of boiling points (acetaldehyde: 21C, up to isoamyl acetate: 142C) suggests that the distillation process was rather unsophisticated and probably used a pot-to-pot still with little attempt to fractionate so that recovery was maximized. Don't touch it!! [oam 7/3.98]

Yeah, strange isn't it? It should be overwhelming with cabbage smell or brussels sprouts. I don't know why, maybe other compounds (not recognised bij the gc) are covering the smell. This is not a strange thing.

The moonshine is not too gross when compared with dinkum malts. The fusel oil (amyl alcohols) content appears to be rather high, but methanol is on the low side. DMS is high, but in the same range as the vintage Islay. I'm surprised you did not comment on a characteristic rubbery/sulfur aroma. I believe the odour threshhold for DMTS is around 5-10 ppb, very much lower than you report. How does it compare with beer values b/t/w? For those of you who are not familiar with DMS aromas, tuck into a decent feed of asparagus, then breathe deeply next time you have a pee. [pw 15/3.98]

That's excactly the smell. I was looking for cabbage but you're so right. It's that strange almost sweety ditinctive smell... Now I dislike the brew even more... There is also a smell (in the moonshine of course) of alcohol with woodspirit. It is faintly tasting like chewing chrysants...I don't know which compound that should be. [jvds 15/3.98]

[The analysis of whisky is an industry in itself and this light-hearted discussion just scratches the surface. A couple of academic papers have been reproduced elsewhere on the site for anyone interested.

As for moonshine, Conclusion: You were warned...!! - jhb]