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January 31, 2013

Is it legal to make moonshine in Colorado?

Colorado Distilling Laws

Colorado Distilling LawsHere is summary of Colorado's laws regarding home distillation of moonshine whiskey, fuel alcohol, essential oils, and water.

Owning a still

The State of Colorado does not prohibit ownership of a still.

Distilling Water and Essential Oils

Yes, it is legal to distill water. It is also legal to distill essential oils without the use of alcohol as a solvent.

Distilling Alcohol for Fuel

It is not legal to distill alcohol for fuel and no fuel alcohol permit exists.

Distilling for Personal Consumption

It is not legal to distill alcohol for personal consumption, though fines are minimal (see below).

Fines and Penalties for Distilling Alcohol in the State of Colorado

The good news is that distilling alcohol for personal consumption in the State of Colorado is neither a felony or a misdemeanor. The act actually falls in a category called "Petty Offenses." Specifically, moonshining in Colorado is a Class 2 Petty Offense and it shares this category with violations such as littering, leaving a campfire unattended, water skiing without a life jacket, and riding a bus without paying a fee. If one is caught making moonshine in Colorado, they are subject to a $250 fine. Freedom ain't free folks...freedom ain't free.

Governing Legal Documents

Colorado Revised Statutes - Title 12 - Article 46

Colorado Revised Statutes - Title 12 - Article 47 

Crime Classifications Guide

American Home Distillers Association








  • The state of Colorado is not hard on home distilling. The federal government is. If you decide to make your own shine, I would not mention it to anyone, and consider the following.

    While individuals of legal drinking age may produce wine or beer at home for personal or family use, Federal law strictly prohibits individuals from producing distilled spirits at home (see 26 United States Code (U.S.C.) 5042(a)(2) and 5053(e)). Producing distilled spirits at any place other than a TTB-qualified distilled spirits plant can expose you to Federal charges for serious offenses and lead to consequences including, but not necessarily limited to, the following:

    Within title 26 of the United States Code, section 5601 sets out criminal penalties for activities including the following. Offenses under this section are felonies that are punishable by up to 5 years in prison, a fine of up to $10,000, or both, for each offense.
    5601(a)(1) – Possession of an unregistered still.
    5601(a)(2) – Engaging in business as a distiller without filing an application and receiving notice of registration.
    5601(a)(6) – Distilling on a prohibited premises. (Under 26 U.S.C. 5178(a)(1)(B), a distilled spirits plant may not be located in a residence or in sheds, yards, or enclosures connected to a residence.)
    5601(a)(7) – Unlawful production or use of material fit for production of distilled spirits.
    5601(a)(8) – Unlawful production of distilled spirits.
    5601(a)(11) – Purchase, receipt, and/or processing of distilled spirits when the person who does so knows or has reasonable grounds to believe that Federal excise tax has not been paid on the spirits.
    5601(a)(12) – Removal or concealment of distilled spirits on which tax has not been paid.

    Posted by STeve on January 27, 2016
  • In response to what Tobbee said about statute 12-47-106 (2) it is legal for the head of the family to brew beer or make wine, not distill spirits.

    (2) (a) Any provision of this article or article 46 of this title to the contrary notwithstanding, when permitted by federal law and rules and regulations promulgated pursuant thereto, a head of a family may produce for family use and not for sale such amount of fermented malt beverage or malt or vinous liquor as is exempt from the federal excise tax on such alcohol beverage when produced by a head of a family for family use and not for sale.

    Posted by Zundfolge on March 04, 2014
  • Based on Colorado Statute 12-47-106 (2) it is legal for a head of the family to produce for family use.

    Posted by Tobbe on January 03, 2014
  • Thank you very much! My husband and I were a little confused by what we were finding on other sites…

    Posted by Donna on February 10, 2013
  • I really enjoy Good moonshine and have been considering making my own.Your site has been a great source of information to assist me with my dicision. Maybe I’ll be back to purchase.Still thinking about it.
    Thank you

    Posted by Dano on February 06, 2013
  • The big concern is tax collection not safety my question is how is it tax free liquor if you have to pay taxes on the materials used to make the still, the ingredients in the mash, the fuel used to heat up the mash, the fuel in your vehicle to pick up all the materials, property taxes, income taxes. So hoe in the hell is home distilled liquor tax free?

    Posted by Mike on February 01, 2013
  • Thanks this is very helpful information!!! My Step-Father and I were wondering about the law here in Colorado was like… His family grows barley for Coors and we were talking one night before you know it we started to talk about moonshine. I did the research one night and came across your site, its been very helpful!!!

    Posted by Rob C on January 31, 2013

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