New Mexico Moonshine Laws

New Mexico is the 5th most extensive, and the 6th least densely populated of the American states.   It is considered to be one of the Mountain States.   It was colonized by Spain, became U.S. territory in 1853, and a full U.S. state in 1912.

The first atomic bomb was tested at the Trinity Bomb site near Alamogordo in 1945.   In 1927 extraterrestrial life became a hot topic of speculation when debris was found by a farmer.   The unidentified material was thought to be a crashed alien spacecraft.   Ever since then, Roswell has been in the news.

The Navajo name for New Mexico is ‘yoofoHazoodzo’ and its motto is ‘CrescitEundo’, or ‘It grows as it goes’.   New Mexico is said to be an ‘Enchanted State’, and it is said that the natural beauties of the state far outweigh the man-made attractions.

But it does seem as if some of the man-made attractions are truly very attractive to some.

Moonshine is a raging business in New Mexico, and many local people grow their own fruits and vegetables to make moonshine at their homes. Moonshine is also known as Rot Gut and White Lightning in the state.

Moonshining has a long history in New Mexico as it has seen prohibition by the state government for many years. The prohibition period was first set in the state in the year 1920 to raise morality, reduce crime and protect youngsters from the harms of alcoholic beverages. However, this prohibition for alcohol production, consumption and sale was lifted after some time.


  1. Is owning a still legal?

Owning a still is legal in New Mexico, however it is unlawful for anyone to produce any spirituous liquor other than a licensed distiller or rectifier. Moreover, if you want to make your moonshine commercial but cannot pay a lot of tax, you can apply for a domestic brewer’s license according to the Act 60-6A-21 to 60-6A-28 NMSA 1978 of the state law.

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

According to the New Mexican Statute 60-3A-5, alcohol distillation for scientific purposes is exempt from the Liquor Control Act [60-3A-1 NMSA 1978]. However for the safety of the students, it is advised that the school authorities and those teachers- who have designed the assignment- should consult the state officials.


  1. What kind of permit do I need to distill ethanol in New Mexico?

According to the law, to make spirits at home with the intention of drinking it, is illegal unless you possess a permit. You can produce fuel from ethanol distillation and can use it for a lawnmower of some other little motorized gadget, or as an ingredient of some or other commercial endeavor like launching a craft spirits company. But without the necessary permits one could face 35 years in prison.

In order to obtain a license for ethanol distillation for producing and (or) selling alcoholic beverages, you can find the relevant link here:

However, no state permit is required to distil fuel alcohol. The only requirement is that all gasoline, including gasohol, meets only the distillation requirements. No Reid Vapor Pressure or other ASTM D439 is required. A federal permit is always needed.


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

New Mexico Moonshine Still ConstructionIt is legal to distill water and essential oils in the state of New Mexico without a permit. You can produce essential oils at your still for personal use and for manufacturing toilet goods. However, you cannot distill essential oils and water to produce alcoholic beverages.

For more information please visit the websites of the New Mexico Regulation and Licensing Department and New Mexico Department of Public Safety.

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 – New Mexico Regulation and Licensing Department