Tennessee Moonshine Laws

While the prohibition era led mostly to a decrease in the production and consumption of moonshine throughout America, it had a completely different effect in Tennessee. The already booming industry reached its peak in the Prohibition era as the demand increased. Multiple factors such as corrupt officials and social acceptability played a role in this. It not only brought profits but inspired local folklore and culture. Stories about moonshiners like Molly Miller who was known for killing several law enforcers and informants spread throughout the state. Popular films and television shows have been based on moonshiners especially in Tennessee.

Furthermore, moonshiners in Tennessee have also been known of customizing and improving their cars leading to high speed pursuits in the mountainous region. The Dixie Highway was one of the major routes used by moonshiners.

Legal Status of Moonshine

  • Moonshine had been considered illegal in most part of Tennessee before 2010 when it was legal in only 3 counties. But, since 2010 it is legal in 44 counties provided that the manufacturer holds a license issued by the state (the Tennessee Code 2010 39-17-706).The first moonshine distillery license was granted in 2010 to Ole Smoky Moonshine Distillery. Unlicensed production of moonshine is considered to be a Class A misdemeanour.
  • Possession of still or any other apparatus for distilling moonshine is considered to be a Class B misdemeanour (The Tennessee Code 2010 39-17-707).
  • Distillation of moonshine in homes is not allowed without a license which subjects you to tax, but manufacture of un-distilled liquor up to 5 gallons is allowed in Tennessee provided that it is used for domestic use only (The Tennessee Code 39-17-708).
  1. What are the steps for acquiring Moonshine Production license in Tennessee?


In order to be eligible for producing moonshine, the manufacturer has to obtain a distillery license. This can be done by filling out Distillery Application Form (Form AB-0034), Questionnaire (Form AB-0009) and  by getting the site of production approved by the state. A $300 application fee (non-redundable) fee and an annual   $1000 fee will also be charged. A TTB Distilled Spirit plant and a TTB Basic Permit is also required to fulfil federal laws. More information can be found here.

  1. What do Tennessee moonshine laws state regarding Ethanol Fuel?

Production of ethanol fuel requires a different license which can be obtained by filling the form here. An annual fee has to be paid if the production is more than 1000 gallons. If the production is from 1000-2500 gallons, $50 will be charged and $100 will be charged if production is more than 2500 gallons annually. (The Tennessee Code 60-4-101). Furthermore a state permit is also required for production of fuel alcohol.

  1. Do Tennessee moonshine laws require any special permits if they are to be used for educational purposes?
Tennessee Homemade Still

Tennessee Homemade Still

Tennessee does not require any special permit for students to use distillers or stills for educational purposes but a federal permit is required. Use of distillers can only be done at educational institutes after an Alcohol Fuel Plant Permit is obtained by the institute. In order to obtain it, a school representative has to fill the Alcohol Fuel Permit application and submit it.


http://www.tn.gov/abc/llicensing%20-%20lead%20page.shtml – Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission, Licensing

http://www.tn.gov/abc/ContactUs_LicPerProContactList.shtml – License, Permit or Contact Information, Tennessee.


“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: 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.”