Rhode Island Moonshine Laws

Rhode Island was the home to the best spirit distillers who were known for their moonshines throughout the world. Newport, Rhode Island was considered to be the capital of rum as there were more than 20 distillers operating in Newport only. As they brought in tourists and revenue, the state was also acceptable towards production of moonshine. Rhode Island is among the only two states that rejected the 18th Amendment which called for the prohibition of production, transportation and sale of ethanol.

As time passed and the socio-political dynamics of Rhode Island changed, the distillery industry started to disappear and soon came to a halt. Some stills did exist for private use but for over 100 years the industry had been nonexistent. Although, now it looks like Rhode Island is on the path to claim its old glory again as large scale distilleries are being established throughout the state including Treasure Island Rums, Sons of Liberty Spirits.

The Division of Commercial Licensing and Regulation supervises and regulates the alcoholic beverages’ production and selling, and also monitors the collection of fees stipulated by Rhode Island state law. The screening of retail and wholesale establishments and the issuance of licenses are among the duties of this Section as well.

Legal Status and Licensing:

All of the laws regarding moonshine can be found Title 3, Alcoholic Beverages but the important ones have been highlighted below:

  1. Is the possession, manufacture and sale of moonshine illegal?
    The possession, manufacture and sale of moonshine is deemed to be illegal unless a person is licensed by the state as stated in the Statuary (§ 3-5-1).It is important to note that manufacture of liquor or malt wyne for domestic use is not prohibited in the state of Rhode Island as stated in 3-1-3.

The license can be obtained by visiting the eLicensing website and completing the application. A Federal basic permit is also required for obtaining the license. A specific fee is also required which is:

Annual fee of $3000 for a distillery
Annual fee of $500 for a brewery
Annual fee of $1500 for a wynery (over 50,000 gallons)

Annual fee of $500 for a wynery (below 50,000 gallons)

  1. The license holder is allowed to provide samples to visitors’ upto 375ml per person to be consumed only on the plant. (§ 3-6-1(b))
  2. In case of any violation, the person is subjected to a fine of not more than five hundred dollars ($500) or imprisonment for not more than ninety (90) days.
    (§ 3-6-17)
  3. Is there state permit required for the manufacture of fuel ethanol according to Rhode Island Moonshine laws?

    NO, none such permit is required; however, a federal permit is required for ethanol fuel distillation. Find the form and instructions in the following link.
  4. What are the moonshine laws that apply to craft distillers?

They are also required to adhere to the same rules but the fee required for craft distillers is less. (§ 3-6-1(c))

  1. What are the Rhode Island Moonshine laws regarding scientific and experimental purposes?
Home-made still, Rhode Island

Home-made still, Rhode Island

Students are allowed to visit and use breweries and distillation plants but only under the supervision of a faculty member. The educational institutes can also apply for a Brewing on premise license for educational use only. In case a license in granted, the plant is to be kept under strict supervision and unauthorized access will not be allowed.

You can find more information regarding the state laws and regulations by visiting:

http://www.dbr.ri.gov/divisions/commlicensing/liquor.php – Department of Business Regulation, State of Rhode Island

http://webserver.rilin.state.ri.us/Statutes/TITLE3/INDEX.HTM – Statute, the Division of Commercial Licensing and Regulation



“Remember, the distillation of ethyl-alcohols is illegal without a permit per federal moonshine laws and is inherently dangerous because of ethanols flammability (never operate a homemade still indoors). For more moonshine laws and other moonshine still permit information, visit: http://www.ttb.gov/spirits/faq.shtml.”


“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.”