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Corn vs white sugar

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My partner and I are doing some planning and would like the advice of more knowledgeable people. We plan to make a specialty spirit. It will be double pot distilled sugar liquor, barrel aged with some added flavoring ingredients.

My partner thinks we could maybe save some money by mashing corn and using a 100% corn whiskey as the base spirit. I think the price difference between corn and white sugar (.75 vs 1.00 lb) won't justify the extra work or equipment right now.

So on a cost per batch basis is white sugar or corn cheaper? It's the extended costs that are hard to nail down.

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While corn itself is much cheaper pound for pound, to use corn as your feedstock is going to require a significantly higher investment in equipment. It's too early to do the math, but unless you are processing massive volumes and are OK with payback being calculated in years, white sugar is going to be a cheaper fermentation feedstock.

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The math is pretty simple:  let's say you pay $20 / 50lb from your local restaurant supply house.  You'll see 46 gravity points / lb of table sugar.   Corn is about 15¢ a lb and you can expect about 33 gravity points / lb.  After calculating cost of a gravity point we have corn at  .45¢ / gp (see below) and sugar at .87¢ / gp.  Processed sugar is nearly double the cost of corn.  Corn isn't that difficult to process -- Sherman Owen has a youtube video out there on processing corn in a direct fired pot -- readily doable but would be a challenge with large batches. Not sure what type of still you have but if it's bain marie or steam you can easily mash the corn in that.  You'll be fighting it the entire way if you attempt it with direct immersion elements.

As for the cost of corn -- we pay 13¢ for corn and about another 2¢ for mill/bag/delivery.  Also need to calculate in enzymes costs -- I think we use .36 ml / lb (??) of starch. I forget the exact amount. It's not very expensive.


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