I stumbled upon a device called an Easystill. Basically, it is a water distillation unit that can also be used to distill alcohol as well. The idea of spirit distillation is simple. Alcohol boils at a temperature less than water, so if you get temperature above 78 °C but below 100 °C, the alcohol becomes vapor, leaving the water behind. A still captures the vapor, cools it enough to turn it back to liquid, allowing you to capture it.
The EasyStill does all that in a 110-volt tabletop device that you can store in the closet or garage when you are finished. The still handles about a gallon of mash at a time, so if you make a small 5 gallon batch of fermented mash, you are running the thing at least 5 times to produce a liter of alcohol. The process is slow to start but does work. I’ve made drinkable moonshine. It’s not for any serious distilling, but for cooking up a batch on occasion.
Kevin had this to say about the legality of making distilled spirits at home:
Making beer and wine at home in the US is perfectly legal. Owning a still (for water or making fuel) is legal. But making distilled spirits at home is currently illegal in all countries of the world except New Zealand. However, technological advances, local craft breweries and artisian spirit-making is rapidly shifting the legal landscape in in the US in favor of home production. In the meantime, if you don't sell it and don't kill anyone, no one will likely mess with you. The best source for home distillery information, including legal updates, advice about all types of stills, recipes, what gear works, aging caskets, flavorings, and so on, is a really great website (based in New Zealand) called Home Distiller. It will probably answer any questions you may have about making your own liquor.
Mark Frauenfelder is the founder of Boing Boing and the editor-in-chief of MAKE and Cool Tools. Twitter: @frauenfelder. His new book is Maker Dad: Lunch Box Guitars, Antigravity Jars, and 22 Other Incredibly Cool Father-Daughter DIY Projects