West Virginia Moonshine Laws

West Virginia has been no stranger to the consumption and production of moonshine throughout the last few centuries. The first production units date back to late 17th century just after its establishment. When the federal government imposed heavy taxes on moonshine, there were massive protests in parts of West Virginia and Pennsylvania since a lot of people depended on moonshine for a living. These protests failed to achieve their objective and eventually an increase in the illegal production of moonshine to avoid taxes was seen. Moonshiners and bootleggers moved toward mountainous areas for places to set up their production plants in secrecy. Foreigners, mainly Scottish, began to settle in West Virginia and started to adopt their techniques and recipes for making moonshine. Most of the moonshiners followed a similar recipe and it led to West Virginia’s moonshine being particular distinct with its crisp taste.

The downfall of moonshine industry began in 1950 when the prohibition laws were voted out and socio economic factors changed. People became less inclined towards obtaining illegal moonshine. Moonshine still does exist in various parts of the state but is mainly produced by licensed manufacturers.

  1. Is owning a still legal?

Distilling moonshine or owning a still is legal in West Virginia but a license is required as stated in the West Virginia legislature (§60-1-3, §60-6-7). Separate licenses are required for different type of production units. Production or sale of moonshine without a license is considered to be a misdemeanor and the person will be subjected to a fine and/or confinement in jail.

While, the distillery can give complimentary samples to customers, on premise consumption is not allowed. (§60-4-3a (b))

It is important to note that a manufacturer is only allowed to distill moonshine up to three thousand gallons or the state holds the right to terminate the license.

Same laws apply to craft distillery.

  1. Is it possible to get a “student permit” to distil alcohol as a part of school science assignment?
  • 60-4-8 states that a still can be owned for educational and research purposes only and not for resale purposes but not without a license. The fee of this license is $5. Additionally, an Alcohol Fuel Plant Permit is required for an institute to adhere with federal laws. It can be obtained by submitting the AFP application found here.
  1. What kind of a permit do I need to distill alcohol in West Virginia?

The permits required can be obtained by filling the Liquor Vendor Form and submitting it to the West Virginia Alcohol Beverage Control Administration. An annual fee will be charged also.

Remember that a federal permit is also required by default. It can be obtained by filling the following forms (TTB Basic Permit,TTB Distilled Spirit plant). If you want to manufacture ethanol fuel (gasahol), it requires a state and a federal TTB Basic Permit as well.

  • 60-4-7a states that ethanol fuel or gasohol can be distilled by a person for personal use only but a license will be issued by the state free of cost. Federal Law requires a TTB Basic Permit also. Its form can be found here: http://www.ttb.gov/forms/f511074.pdf
  1. Is distillation of essential oils or water legal in West Virginia?

The laws do not impose any restriction on manufacturing non-alcoholic products through distillation for personal use, and since it is also legal to own a still, it can be considered that distillation of oils and water is legal in West Virginia and it does not require any specific permit other than a licensed still.

West Virginia Moonshine Construction

West Virginia Moonshine Construction

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: http://www.ttb.gov/spirits/faq.shtml.”


http://www.ttb.gov/spirits/index.shtml – Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, Distilled Spirits


http://www.abca.wv.gov/Pages/default.aspx – Alcohol Beverage Commission, West Virginia