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Homemade Spirits, Are they Legal?

Every novice man in this distilling interest faces this simple however very critical question: Is it legal to distill your own alcohol? Let's be enlightened.


It is only legal in New Zealand and a few European countries, elsewhere it isn't - the punishment ranges from fines to imprisonment. In the United States, home distilling is practically illegal unlike homebrewing and winemaking. While it is fine to own a still, the federal law requires that a permit be secured before anyone can practice distilling alcohol.

Early 1920's when alcohol consumption was made illegal, home distillation rampantly unfolded among the Americans to defy the prohibition. The term "Moonshine" was then coined to refer to illegally distilled spirits. The ban was only lifted in 1933, after the law was amended.

The federal rules enforced by The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) are just remnants of the Prohibition period, although officials still argue it's due to safety issues. Contrary, some states have already reformed their laws to open doors for more interested craft distillers. Class A-1 distiller's license for small producers encouraged more New Yorkers to engage in alcohol distilling since 2002. The license was made five times cheaper than the previous cost. In most states all sales have to occur in liquor stores which hinders small distillers to sell their products. But in 2008, Washington allowed serving spirits samples and direct selling to customers to utmost 2 Liters/day.

However our hands are tied with these restrictions, we see how distiller's guidebooks and stills for sale are widely accessible online. As the laws gradually change, we soon hope for America to appreciate home distilling again.


Sources: legallibations.com, wiki.homedistiller.org

Posted by Jason Stone on


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