Kentucky Moonshine Laws

According to Business Time, moonshine, the outlaw hooch made famous in backwoods Appalachia, is nowadays supervised by the government and can be purchased at Walmart. The spirit has become so popular that even the industry’s biggest distilleries are getting in the game. Now moonshine is commercially available and people have developed a taste for it. Before, the demand was met with illegal supply, now the demand is met with legal supply. However, it is difficult to regulate moonshine production as the raw materials for making it (sugar and yeast) are readily available, and people can construct moonshine still by themselves. Moonshine produced inexpertly contains lethal substances, which make meddling with moonshine on your own a dangerous prospect.

1. Is owning a still legal?

In accordance with Kentucky Revised Statute Section 244.170, owning a still is not legal unless it is done on a large scale for commercial production. One cannot own a private home moonshine still or water purification still. The fine for first offense of owning an illegal still or producing moonshine commercially without a license is up to $250, and the fine for second and subsequent offenses is $500. The jail time for the first offense is 90 days imprisonment, for the second and subsequent offenses is 90 days to 12 months imprisonment. In addition, the property used to manufacture moonshine may be confiscated

2. Is it possible to get a “student permit” to distill alcohol as part of a school science project?

Yes. According to the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, an application may be forwarded to the bureau by a representative of the school in order to request permission to set up a temporary “Alcohol Fuel Plant” at the school. This can only be done for elementary and high schools and requires that an adult supervisor be present to oversee the science experiment when it is conducted by the students.

3. What kind of a permit do I need to distill ethanol in Kentucky?

License Application for a Distillers License can be obtained at the Kentucky Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control website at It enables the license holder to manufacture moonshine on a commercial scale. It costs $3090 per year.

According to the Kentucky Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, 804 KAR 4:250(2) provides that a Special Temporary License Application must be filed at least five working days prior to the date for which the license is being obtained. From Nov. 1, 2013, the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control denies any Special Temporary License Application that is not received by the department at least five working days before the requested license date. Moreover, temporary license applications can also be rejected if they lack local administrator approval as required by KRS 243.370.

4. Is it legal to distill essential oils and water?

Yes, if it is done on a commercial scale. Application for an Alcohol Fuel Producer’s Permit at:
Tax Registration Application for Motor Fuels License at:

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!

kentuky“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 – Kentucky Alcoholic Beverage Control