Virginia Moonshine Laws

Home to the “Capital of Moonshine” Franklin County, Virginia has been long involved in the industry of moonshining. Legal and Illegal moonshine has been present in the state from decades. Franklin County where a lot of moonshiners resided and carried out their businesses even during the Prohibition period had been known throughout the world mainly due to its high production rate.

Virginia is amongst the few states that saw a slow return back to moonshine and alcohol after the Prohibition Era since the government was stricter in its approach towards moonshine. On one hand, the government did succeed in keeping moonshine of the bar shelves, but it did give a boost to the manufacturing of illegal moonshine. It was a way out of poverty for most of the people.

Although moonshine has existed even when illegal, a recent growth in the legal moonshining industry has been seen. With the opening of Belmont Farm craft distillery (the first American craft distillery) in1988 and more licensed commercial distilleries in the last decade, the moonshiners are making a comeback but this time with the blessings of the state.

  1. Is owning a still legal?

A still can be owned but a distillers license is required to do so. § 4.1-300 of Title 4.1 – ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGE CONTROL ACT (Code of Virginia) states that the manufacturing of alcohol unless a license is acquired is illegal. It is a Class 6 misdemeanor to produce illegal moonshine without a license. However, bier and wyne can be manufactured without a license for domestic use only as stated in § 4.1-200 .

  • 4.1-206 (a) states that a distiller’s license will allow the licensee to distill alcoholic beverages other than wyne or bier.

Adherence with federal law is also necessary as well as federal licenses.

  1. Is it possible to get a “student permit” to distil alcohol as a part of school science assignment?

No exemption is made for educational purposes when license is concerned in the Virginia Code. Hence, no student permit is issued by the state. But, a federal permit may be acquired to distill ethanol in education institutes. An Alcohol fuel Plant Permit should be obtained by the educational institute. It is important to contact the ABC Virginia and confirming if any other permit is required for educational institutes.

This permit only allows distilling at educational institutes and not by individuals in their homes.

  1. What kind of a permit do I need to distill alcohol in Virginia?

A state Distillery License is required which is to be renewed annually. The cost for this license is $450 (if the production is less than 5000 gallons and $3,725 if the production is more than 5000 gallons. An additional $65 non-refundable fee is also to be paid.  The forms can be found here

For a federal permit, the TTB Basic Permit and a TTB Distilled Spirit Plant permit is required. These can be obtained by filling the following forms:

TTB Distilled Spirit plant
TTB Basic Permit

Manufacturing ethanol fuel or gasahol is also legal in Virginia although a state and a federal permit is required. It should be ntoed that the Virginia law is very specific in its requirements of ethanol fuel production.

  1. Is distillation of essential oils or water legal in Virginia?
Virginia Typical Moonshine Still

Virginia Typical Moonshine Still

Note that the essential oil distillation equipment is legal in Virginia. A still can be used to distill water and oils only if the authorities are informed beforehand of the intent. Also, there are certain limits in place for the quantity of oils to be distilled which can be known by contacting the authorities. No federal license or permit is required unless alcoholic beverages are being distilled.

In order to get more details, visit the Virginia Department of Alcohol Beverage Control official website.

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!

“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:


Links: – Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, Distilled Spirits – Code of Virginia, Title 4.1 – ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGE CONTROL ACT