The immediate advantage of distilling your own hard spirits at home is the costs saved. But it would not be worth your while if you were not to do it well, with proper precautions. Understanding a little about the process of distillation will also help. Distillation is not exaction “making” alcohol, in that it is the process of collecting the alcohol already present in fermented mashes of fruits, grains or other ingredients.
When fermented mashes or liquid is heated up, because of the difference in the physical properties of water and ethanol, the water will be boiled off. Through a packed column designed for the specific process, the vapor loses its water content and collects the alcohol, because it will be passed through the column which allows condensed vapor to run back down through it, and making the water content pass out of the column. When the liquid is heated up, the vapor that arises from it and condenses will be made to meet a cold surface, in order to collect the ethanol; when vapor, going up, encounters the liquid, passing down, it will collect the alcohol and in turn be stripped of its water. Simply put, it is just the collection of alcohol in the fermented mash being boiled.
For home distillation you can first try one of the two things. One is to make a neutral spirit like vodka, lacking particular taste or odor. You can give it any flavor of your choice later, using fruits or essences to produce liqueurs. To distill you would need a wash of sugar and nutrients, yeast, and some water, and boil the mash. Using a reflux still will be easier, which means a higher purity level could be reached in order to make your vodka very much like the commercial vodka, free of flavor and aroma; the excellent option for your cocktails. If you are using a pot still, you might want to redistill the distilled product, to achieve higher purity and less flavoring. With a reflux still you could do this at one go.
The other method is to try and produce whiskey, brandy or rum by using grains like wheat, corn, barley or rye. If you have any experience of home brewing, making your own beer or wine, then this should be easy. Ferment the ingredients just as you would to make beer or wine, and distill it using your still. This may be the more interesting process, because you can use dried fruits, cereals, any grains of your choice together with flowers and other essences.
The single most important tool for distillation at home is the still; with it you can make all the distilled alcoholic beverages you can think of, provided you can procure the necessary grains and/or fruits. Without a still you will only have fermented ingredients that have been a little heated up. Purchase a trustworthy still, preferably made of copper, and one that guarantees its being lead-free; look also for repair warranties, and promises to do refunds if anything is wrong with your product, either with its production or shipping. Take time in selecting your still, by carefully reading some moonshine still details available.