This blog provides information for educational purposes only. Products sold are intended to be used in accordance with the proper licensing or permitting procedure of the respective jurisdiction of the user. Read our complete legal summary for more info.

January 11, 2013

Is Making Moonshine Legal?

Know Your Rights - Moonshine Laws

Unless the thought of digging ditches with chains around your ankles is appealing, you better read this article on the legalities of making moonshine very closely. There are federal and state laws regulating home distilling. To avoid trouble with the federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies and officials, you'll need to comply with federal and state laws, as well as any local laws. We'll summarize federal laws in this article, which are important to know. However, also be sure to check out laws regulating distillation for your state.

Federal Distillation Laws

Federal law states that it is legal to own a still of any size. It doesn't matter if you have a 1 gallon still or a 100 gallon still. According to the feds, it is legal to have a still for decoration, distilling water, distilling essential oils, etc. The still does not need to be registered with anyone and no permits are needed as long as it is being used for the aforementioned purposes. However, be advised it is illegal to distill alcohol without having either a "distilled spirits permit" or a "federal fuel alcohol permit." It does not matter if the alcohol is for personal use only, not for sale, etc. 

A common misconception is that only stills 1 gallon and smaller are legal. This is not true. Actual law merely states that stills 1 gallon or less that are not being used to distill alcohol are not tracked by the TTB (see more on this below. It is perfectly legal to own a still larger than 1 gallon so long as it is not being used to distill alcohol or it is permitted to be used for distilling fuel alcohol or spirits.

Federal Distilled Spirits & Federal Fuel Alcohol Permit

If a person wishes to legally distill alcohol, they have two options. The first option is to obtain a Federal Distilled Spirits Permit. This is the permit that industry giants like Jack Daniels and Makers Mark distilleries possess, which makes it legal for them to distill and distribute to the public. As one might imagine, this permit is very difficult to get.

In short, unless you're opening a distillery with the intention of selling your product in liquor stores, don't even bother looking into getting a distilled spirits permit; it's way too expensive and complicated for a home distiller to obtain. Instead pursue a fuel alcohol permit (which we'll describe next).

Option two is a Federal Fuel Alcohol Permit (link below), which is free and easy to get. We've never heard of anyone being denied the permit and have never heard of anyone even being checked up on. Just be advised that the feds will expect that you're putting your alcohol in you lawnmower, and not drinking it!

Federal Fuel Alcohol Permit

Here's the link for the federal fuel alcohol permit: http://www.ttb.gov/forms/f511074.pdf If you happen to build a Clawhammer Supply moonshine still kit, you'll write "Clawhammer Supply" in the manufacturer line and your order number for the serial number (e.g. "6601"). List the type as a "pot still." The capacity is the size of boiler (i.e. 1 gallon, 5 gallon, 10 gallon, etc...).

Note, if you're not planning to use your still for alcohol you do not need to get a permit or register the still with the federal government. Federal rules state that stills only need to be reported / registered if the Federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau asks the manufacturer to do so (more on this below). Though, again, if you are using it to distill alcohol, you will want to get a federal fuel alcohol permit (or a spirit distillers permit, if that's what you're using it for).

State Distillation Laws

State distilling law is different in every state. Some states have no laws on owning a still, but prohibit the distillation of alcohol (such as Colorado, which charges a small fine if one is caught doing so) while other states prohibit possession of a still unless it's for fuel alcohol (such as North Carolina, which requires a state fuel alcohol permit). Some states may prohibit possession of distillation equipment and distilling altogether. You'll need to Google the laws in your state to find out.

Still Registration and Reporting

Federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau regulations state that still manufacturers need to keep customer info. Additionally, these records may also be requested by the federal TTB and still manufacturers are required to submit them if asked. 

How to Stay Out of Trouble

Federal law provides no exemptions for the production of distilled spirits for personal or family use. Under no circumstances should you ever distil or sell alcohol without a permit. If you choose to distill alcohol, make sure to obtain all applicable fuel or spirit permits (listed above). Additionally, check your state laws and make sure that owning and / or operating a still is permissible.

Click here to read the actual federal laws on the subject of distillation.

  • bootlegging is still happening as moonshine permits are 100 k or more

    Posted by jon.cook107@gmail.com on March 27, 2019
  • Don’t you have to make reports and keep records of production and use with a Federal Fuel Alcohol permit?

    Posted by Kras on November 27, 2018
  • best place to buy still 1 to 5 gal.

    Posted by carson on June 18, 2018
  • So is this : Grow your own, OR own your groan?

    Posted by Juanno on May 21, 2018
  • Will you ship to Ontario canada?
    Thanks in advance
    Tristan

    Posted by Tristan on May 21, 2018
  • *YOUR LAWNMOWER

    Posted by KEVIN on May 08, 2018
  • if I obtained the fuel alcohol permit, would I still be able to sell the alcohol, provided that I am able to provide a sellers permit to do so?

    Posted by ANdrew on February 19, 2018
  • Same question as other canadians, is there a problem shipping to Canada and are there any repercussions. Have you ever shipped to Canada sucessfully. Thanks

    Posted by Richard on February 03, 2018
  • Why would anyone need “permission” to do anything at all that doesn’t harm another human being?

    What I chose to put into my own body is my Decision. If you don’t have that right, you Are not free.

    The same applies to any substance. The argument that People steal to support their “habit” is irrelevant. There are already laws against stealing. The reason for stealing isn’t relevant. The same goes for a still being dangerous. If you harm another person through your own negligence, you are responsible.

    It’s time for folks to assert their rights of self-ownership. If you don’t own yourself, you are the slave of another.

    Posted by G3Ken on January 10, 2018
  • TRYING TO MAKE MY OWN BEER AND VODKA IN THE SUMMER ESPECIALLY AND BOURBON IN THE COLD MONTHS. THE LIQUOR TAXES ARE AROUND HALF OF THE COST IN THE LIQUOR STORES UP HERE IN PENNSYLVANIA. I’D LIKE TO LIKE SOME GOOD BOURBON UP HERE. THE QUALITY IS NOT THAT IMPORTANT ME.JUST SO I CAN GET AT LEAST 80 PROOF OR MORE AND I HAPPY.

    Posted by Robert WATSON on December 04, 2017
  • america. Home of the brave and land of the free.

    Bulls**T!!

    z

    Posted by Zardiw on November 15, 2017
  • If Jack Danields make LIQUOR IS IT ALL RIGHT TO LET CONGRESS GET DRUNK AND TELL THE REST OF THE COUNTRY IT AGINST THE LAW. EARL LOFTON DRESDEN TN.

    Posted by EARLlofton on November 08, 2017
  • Am wanting to purchase your spice kits but you want ship to North Carolina. It’s not alcohol it’s spices so why can’t you ship to North Carolina. Btw email is lower case letters. Love your site keep up the good work.

    Posted by Steve on October 11, 2017
  • I live in Missouri and is it correct that in the show me state I’m not required to have a permit to distil alcohol up to 200 gallons a year as long as I’m twenty one years of age and I don’t sell any of my moonshine but rather that I keep it in the family?

    Posted by Pjilip on September 17, 2017
  • I’m considering getting a ttb permit for a distilled spirits plant, but I cannot find any information on whether I can use a homemade still for commercial production. Any help? Thanks!

    Posted by Jim on August 08, 2017
  • Your stills are awesome and very easy to put together and fun also, I’ve used the 5 gallon still about 6 times, and by triple distilling I got 180 proof, as I stated I’ve used it about 6 times reason being not because of the still, but faulty wires, my house burnt down lost everything including the still so I will be in the market very soon for another still, so until then…your stills are awesome…

    Posted by Donn on August 03, 2017
  • Do you ship still to Canada?

    Posted by Brad on October 23, 2016
  • I live in Tennessee, Monroe County. I bought one of popcorn Suttons stills and use it at demonstration shows. Do I need some sort of permit or registratin or whatever, to own this still and use it at shows. i do not distill anything.’

    Posted by bill leistner on September 27, 2016
  • Folks, it’s PERFECTLY LEGIT TO MAKE BEER, WINE, AND MEAD IN FLORIDA. it’s a homebrewer-friendly state. You can ferment, you just cannot distill.

    hERE IS THE STAUTE:

    Fla. Stat. §562.165
    (1) Notwithstanding any provisions to the contrary, a person who is not prohibited by §562.111 from possessing alcoholic beverages may produce beer for personal or family use, and not for sale, in the amounts provided in this section without payment of taxes or fees or without a license. The aggregate amount of such beer permitted to be produced with respect to any household shall be as follows:
    (a) Not in excess of 200 gallons per calendar year if there are two or more such persons in such household.
    (b) Not in excess of 100 gallons per calendar year if there is only one such person in such household.

    (2) Notwithstanding any provisions to the contrary, a person who is not prohibited by §562.111 from possessing alcoholic beverages may produce wine for personal or family use, and not for sale, in the amounts provided in this section without payment of taxes or fees or without a license. The aggregate amount of such wine permitted to be produced with respect to any household shall be as follows:
    (a) Not in excess of 200 gallons per calendar year if there are two or more such persons in such household.
    (b) Not in excess of 100 gallons per calendar year if there is only one such person in such household.

    (3) Any personal or family production of beer or wine in excess of the amount permitted in this section or any sale of such alcoholic beverages constitutes a violation of the Beverage Law.

    (4) Wine and beer made under the provisions of this section may be removed from the premises where made for personal or family use, including use at organized affairs, exhibitions, or competitions, such as homemakers’ contests, tastings, or judgings. Wine or beer used under this subsection shall not be sold or offered for sale.

    Posted by Andrew Jennings on March 01, 2016
  • Hi I live in Canada and was curious about the shipping if you can contact me that would be great, thanks

    Posted by KEvin on January 04, 2016


Leave a comment

Please note, the design of our website does not allow us to respond directly to blog comments. Please email us directly regarding questions about products. We don't answer questions about recipes, procedures, etc. However, feel free to leave a comment or respond to comments made by others!