Moonshining was a very common business in Florida for decades. Interestingly, involvement with moonshine production was not considered as a way of challenging the state, but it was basically treated as a mean to earn more money. Further, during the prohibition, the need for moonshine increased even more, as then it was one of very few drinks available to public. Florida’s huge coastline meant that it was easy to import moonshine and its core ingredients from places such as the Caribbean whereas the rounding forests provided a good hiding spot for the moonshiners. As a result, even the utmost efforts of law enforcers failed to curtail the flourishing business. In 1926, Charlotte County gained recognition for the biggest haul of contraband liquor on record. Moonshine was at an all-time high in the 1950’s when there were so many stills running that one anti-moonshining program led to the confiscation of about 90 stills. It was a period when special exhibitions were set up to show other people how a still worked and what the environment was like.
Moonshine still exists in its illegal form throughout Florida but at a smaller scale. It is partly due to a certain legalization of moonshine in the state.
1. Is owning a still legal?
No, it is not legal to own a still without authorization in Florida. Statutes Section 562.27 states that any apparatus that can be in any way used to distill alcoholic beverages is illegal, which means that even if you do not intend to make moonshine and have a still, you are committing a crime punishable by law. It is a 3rd degree felony and the owner can be charged up to 5 years of imprisonment or a fine of $5000.
If you want to distill alcoholic beverages, you will have to get a license from the state subjecting you to regulations and taxes.
Since you cannot even own a still, you consequently cannot distil water or essential oils in Florida. Florida is among the few states who maintain that hard-line stance.
2. Is it possible to get a “student permit” to distil alcohol as a part of school science assignment?
Florida does not assign any student permits for distillation of alcohol at home. However, your institute can obtain an Alcohol Fuel Plant Permit for distillation of alcohol on school premises. Distillation cannot begin unless the permits are issued. Secondly, you can also contact TTB to take permission for visiting certified distilleries to carry out required experiments.
3. What kind of a permit do I need to distill ethanol in Florida?
If you want to distill moonshine for personal or commercial use, you need to get a Craft Distillery License in both cases. The fee of this license is $4000 and you will have to submit monthly reports to the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulations. You can find the form here: http://www.myfloridalicense.com/dbpr/abt/forms/index_auditing.html
You will also need federal TTB Distilled Spirits and TTB Basic Permit for distilling alcohol.
Florida has taken quite some steps to promote ethanol fuel. Firstly you do not need a state license for manufacturing ethanol fuel but only a federal license. Secondly, there are considerable amounts of fuel tax exemptions on ethanol fuel. You also need to follow the ASTM D439 specifications which include Distillation and Reid Vapour Pressure specifications.
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.myfloridalicense.com/dbpr/abt/index.html – Florida, Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco