New Jersey Moonshine Laws

Known as the “Garden State” and the “Crossroads of the East”, the state of New Jersey (Warren County) was a hometown of “Nancy the Moonshiner”, notorious lady hooch-maker back in 1880s.  Considered an eccentric person by her townsfolk, she was, in fact, businesswoman and moneymaker.

Some of the better legends are: She stole apples from a fruit garden near her home to prepare apple jack, or Jersey lightning, a distilled hard cider. The story says, once a government plain-clothes detective crept into her hillside home hoping to catch her red-handed, the brave Nancy knock him cold and took off running. She succeeded to get away!

Today, to run their business in the State of New Jersey, distillery owners should first get licenses from the federal and state governments.

According to federal regulations as well as the requirements of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 and  the Federal Alcohol Administration Act , the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) issues a permit to operate a distilled spirits plant.

An approval of a filed application for the permit and a passing of an inspection of the distillery facilities by a federal government inspector are essential for obtaining the permit. It authorizes the production, processing, rectifying and storage of distilled spirits and beverages.

New Jersey’s laws and regulations regarding alcohol are overseen by the Department of Law and Public Safety‘s Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC), which is managed by the state’s Attorney-General. The Division issues licenses to distilleries to operate within the state, granting four distinct Class A Manufacturer’s Licenses.

Federal excise taxes are levied on production of distilled spirits intended for human beverage consumption. Taxes are imposed on undenatured distilled spirits, including those used in production of medicines and medicinal preparations, food products, flavours, perfume, and then, at the end of the fiscal year, drawn back (i.e. refunded) to the producer. Distilled spirits intended for industrial or research use that are denatured (i.e., treated with substances to make them unsuitable for human beverage consumption), or used by research laboratories, schools, hospitals and government agencies are exempt from federal excise taxes.

But what about brewing your own Moonshine?

On January 24th, 2013, a Medford man was found with guns, fireworks and pot – and he was making Moonshine!   It was illegal!  He had distilling apparatus!  It is illegal to distil spirits!   He was arrested!   Distilling Moonshine has long been popular along the Appalachian Mountains – but not legal in the state of New Jersey.   The Police did not think that he was selling the spirits.    He was arrested!

Home brewing of no more than 200 gallons of wyne or malt is permitted for household or personal consumption – without a permit – if one is 21 years of age or older.   However, it is a criminal offense to possess an unregistered still and to distil any amount of hard liquor in it.

Let us take a closer look at the Liquor Laws operating in New Jersey:

Title 33 Intoxicating Liquors

  • Is owning a still illegal according to New Jersey Moonshine laws?

No it is not illegal but according to 33:2-10, failure to register still is illegal and is regarded as a misdemeanor:


Possession of a still or distilling apparatus without having registered it shall be regarded as a misdemeanor,  and a fine of not less than one hundred dollars and not more than one thousand dollars or imprisonment for not less than thirty days and not more than three years, or both, shall be levied.   

  • What are the New Jersey state laws regarding distilling craft alcohol?

According to 33:1-10.3d :
In 2013 the state legalized the distilling of craft alcohol and issued the first plenary distilling license.   The fee for a Craft License is $938; distillers are limited to 20,000 gallons per year and must use at least 51% local raw materials in the distillation process.   Only 3 samples (of one half ounce per sample) per person per calendar day may be offered for sampling purposes only.   Only 5 liters may be sold for off-premises consumption.

  • Are there any permits required for production of fuel alcohol?

According to 26U.S.C.5181 :  NJSA 33:1-5 & 33:1-24 (powers, duties and obligations) :  A136  : Fuel Alcohol :

No State permit is required for the production of fuel alcohol and there are no state volatility requirements. Provision is made for tax incentives for alcohol fuel production and consumption.

  • What do the New Jersey moonshine laws say about commercial distilleries?


As stated in the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 and Federal  Alcohol Administration Act :

Both Federal and State Governments require owners and operators of distilleries in New Jersey to acquire licenses.   The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax Bureau of the Federal U.S. Department of the Treasury issues permits for the operation of plant for the distillation of spirits, in accordance with federal regulations.

Licenses and Permits are issued for the production of distilled spirits within 4 different Classes; Manufacturers’ Licenses fall under Class A.   Taxes are imposed on distilled spirits for human beverage consumption, at the rate of $5.50 per gallon.


  • What are the laws regarding undenatured distilled spirits such as medicines, food products, flavorings and perfumes?


These are subject to Federal excise taxes but the taxes are refunded to the manufacturer at the end of the fiscal year.

  • Can denatured distilled spirits be used for industrial consumption or scientific/ educational research?
Still construction, New Jersey

Still construction, New Jersey

Spirits that are unfit for human consumption and are intended for use in research, in hospitals, universities or government agencies, are exempt from federal excise taxes.




For more instructions and guidelines, visit the links below: – The State of New Jersey, Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) – ABC Licensing Bureau – ABC contacts, New Jersey


“Remember, the distillation of ethyl-alcohols is illegal without a permit per federal moonshine laws and is inherently dangerous because of ethanol’s flammability (never operate a homemade still indoors). For more moonshine laws and other moonshine still permit information, visit:


“Finally, we are not lawyers, this info is for your entertainment only, so be sure to consult a crafty moonshine laws lawyer before spending any monies on your own distillation plant.”