US still distillation laws

Home distilling is subject to both federal and state laws.

The distillation of grappas, spirits, essential oils, and water at home is a practice passed down through several generations. The stills made from copper are commonly known as “moonshine stills” or “whiskey stills” and may have become popular in the later years of the
1800s.

However, people have been using them since long before they gained a name and reputation. If you own one of these beauties, it will do you well to learn about alcohol distilling legalities.

Unless, of course, you like the idea of spending time behind bars. Home distilling is subject to both federal and state laws. Through this article, we’ll be summarizing the crucial bits of these laws. Read on because this is all to help keep you out of trouble!

Federal Laws On Owning Stills

Federal laws allow people to own stills regardless of their size legally. However, this is under the condition that they don’t use or intend to use the stills to produce alcohol.

So you can own and operate a still only to filter water or make essential oils. However, if you intend to produce consumable alcohol, you must apply for a Federal Distilled Spirits Permit.

Only then will you be fully compliant with federal laws concerning
still operations. Owners can also use their distillation equipment to produce fuel alcohol if they possess a Federal Fuel Alcohol Permit.

You can glance through the actual federal statutes concerning distillation equipment here: 27 CFR Part 29, Subpart C – Stills.

State Laws On Owning Stills

Home distillation is subject to state-specific laws besides federal regulations. Naturally, these state distillation laws tend to vary quite a bit.

So it is advisable to look up the rules of the state you live in specifically. That will give you a clearer idea of the legality of owning and operating distillation equipment in your state.

You will also be surer of whether you will need a permit for your
equipment or not.

Local Laws On Owning Stills

Owners of distillation equipment should not overlook local laws in their county or city. Sometimes specific parishes, counties, cities, or townships might require local home distillation licenses, certificates, or permits.

You can check out information concerning government web pages, including your local one here: USA.gov.

Is It Ever Illegal To Possess A Still?

It is illegal to produce consumable alcohol in the absence of the appropriate licenses. A commercial, federal distilled spirits plant (DSP) permit is the only one that authorizes producing consumable distilled spirits.

Production of alcohol for personal or family use is not
permissible by federal law. Also, remember that the owning and operation of distillation equipment is subject to state laws.

While these laws may vary from one state to another, there are some standard rules.
For instance, producing consumable or fuel alcohol without proper permits is illegal across states.

Finally, there may be local laws regulating the ownership and operation of distillation equipment. So that’s another thing owners should keep in mind.

TTB Reporting Requirements

According to the TTB, anyone who makes distillation parts or entire distillers must maintain sales information records.

They can also legally demand reports of this data from distillation equipment manufacturers.

Wrap Up

Laws around distilling and distillation equipment are relatively straightforward. As long as you’re well aware of them, you will face no legal trouble whatsoever.

So before you jump into home distillation, take it upon yourself to do some research. Cover all your bases, including federal, state, and legal laws.

That way, you will know what you should and shouldn’t do to a tee. You’ll also have greater insight into the consequences of breaking distillation laws.

Alcohol is something you should enjoy, and the best way to enjoy it involves being responsible!