Federal Moonshine Laws

Don't tread on my freedom !Learn how to make legal moonshine

Install your own Moonshine still kit at your home and have fun making moonshine on your own. It’s easy to order, with simple instructions and plenty of video tutorials available online you can easily learn how to use one and make your every own moonshine. There is much excitement in the market about this easy to use and fun to make moonshine still, however a lot of people worry about the legal issues rumored to be present about owning moonshine stills. This article will brief you about the laws and regulations regarding moonshine manufacturing.

Federal moonshine laws and Federal distillation laws are made by the federally administered Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau also known as TTB, not the ATF. It provides licenses, collects registration fees and checks for the running of these plants. All these requirements by the state are to ensure healthy and safe production of alcohol. It’s always better to go through the rules and regulations to avoid getting into any trouble with the law.


  1. Is fuel distillation illegal in the United States? 

    No, fuel distillation is not illegal but it does have some requirements and permits that need to be obtained prior to fuel distillation.

Under 26 U.S. Code § 5181: Distilled spirits for fuel use, distillation of alcohol without a permit for fuel purposes is illegal. Under the internal revenue code, it is a criminal offence. To use fuel stills legally, TTB issues Alcohol Fuel Plant (AFP) that allows people who want to produce, store or use distilled fuel.
– Under section 5214 (a)(12): Distilled fuel can be prepared without paying taxes and can be removed from bonded premises.
– Under provisions of 
26 U.S.C. Chapter 51, or 27 CFR, part 19, subpart X: If a person who has AFP license and has been proven to be deceiving the law as provided applicable, that person’s license can be revoked.

  1. Is it legal to own a distillery in the United States?

YES! It is perfectly legal to own and setup a distillery as long as you have clearance and authorization by proper authorities.

According to federal moonshine laws: It is legal to own any kind of still for water distillation or any other non-alcoholic liquid. No matter what quantity of alcohol you use for distillation it is prohibited by law to distill alcohol without a permit.

You can distill natural oil and extract any essential components. For this you require no license, there are no legal requirements that you need to meet. However when there is alcohol in any quantity involved, it is necessary to get a license no matter what is the gallon size of the distillation still.
– Under 26 U.S.C. 5214(a)(5): You can transfer any non-alcoholic distillation freely and  TTB regulations at 27 CFR 19.402-19.407.

To make a commercial distillery plant, there are various steps and processes that you need to perfectly undergo. The first steps involves registering a plan with the TTB, without which a person can only work as a distiller or warehouseman on a distilled spirits plant. You can find all the relevant information regarding where to find the permits and the requirements for these permits here §19.71 and here Requirements for Registering a Plant:

(1) The required serial number;

(2) The name, business address, and location of the distilled spirits plant only if  it is different from the applicant’s address;

(3) The operations that are going to be conducted;

(4) The purpose for submitting the application;
Registration can be done through the form TTB F 5110.41 which must be submitted to the TTB officer for evaluation. For instructions on how to properly fill the form for gaining a permit to operate a commercial distillery plant, visit here.

  1. What are Federal moonshine laws for artisan moonshine?

– For beer production under Sec. 25.205: Any adult can produce beer without payment of taxes for family purposes without paying taxes, the production must not exceed from 100 gallons for 1 person. However corporations are not allowed to produce beer for sale purposes under this exemption.
– Under Sec. 25.205: Beer produced by families can leave premises for family gatherings and wine tasting. But beer produced cannot be sold.
– Under Sec. 24.75: same rule applies to wine production.
– Under Sec 5606: Any person founding guilty of breaking the law will be fined for $1,000, or imprisoned for 1 year, or both, for such offense.

For making beverages that contains distilled spirits one needs to meet some safety requirements. All of these requirements are listed in 27 CFR Part 19. Such as:
1)  location,
2) construction,
3) equipment
4) arrangement and qualifications qualification.
5) and operation (including activities incident thereto) of distilled spirits plants. etc.

These beverages produced at moonshine still are permitted by federal government. You can package them according to the proprietors’ wishes. However the details on the packaging must be complete and accurate. Any logo or graphics you decide to place on your beverage can be questioned by the TTB.

4 Is it possible to use a still for distillation as part of a school/scientific/ experiment? :

– According to the current law: No, you cannot use a still for school purposes. If you are a student who needs to experiment with a homemade still, under federal law you are allowed to carry out experiments only if you have a permit for an alcohol fuel plant. Even with this permit you can experiment with alcohol only at places authorized by TTB. To qualify for this permit, following conditions should be met:

  • An authorized person for example a teacher or principle must fill an application form 5110.74requesting to allow a small AFP at school. It should include:
    – Purpose.
    – Information regarding the type of plant.
    – Signatures of the program directors, managers.
    – Personal bio-data of the individual responsible etc.
  • An adult supervisor should be present during the experiment at all times.
  • The TTB must be informed about the proper time period needed for the experiment.

– Under 27 Sub. D §1.62: Use and production of  distilled spirits for scientific/experimental purposes in manufacture medicinal, pharmaceutical, toilet preparations; food products; or scientific, chemical, mechanical, or industrial products is free of tax under federal law for non-beverage purposes and resale of such products is not permissible.

– Under 26 U.S. Code § 5181: Any person who has unregistered still in his possession,  has filed a fraudulent application, is distilling on prohibited location, is using stills unlawfully, is breaking any distillation law shall be fined for not more than $10,000, or imprisoned not more than 5 years, or both, for each such offense.

The entire information above is for educational purposes. Before you make a still, go through your individual state law. Most of the above information is derived from the understanding of the federal laws, they stand valid in most parts of the country, however its better if you check out individual state laws since they often vary. Respect law for its devised for your own protection and safety.

5 What’s the easiest Federal distillation permit to get?

The easiest permit that is available is the fuel permit for experimentation and fuel use. If production and the amount received is under 10,000 gallons per year, and is blended with gasoline for automatic fuel use, then it does not require any bond. However, an AFP that does not blend gasoline with  distilled spirits per year is obliged to register a bond following 27 CFR 19.699. Also, according to  27 CFR 19.152 every person planning to set up a distilled spirits plant(not an alcohol fuel plant, or AFP) shall is required by the law to file a unit or an operations bond as set in  27 CFR part 19, subpart F.

6 Are there penalties for illegal still use?

  • The congress never exempted distilled beverages and spirits in the IR code of 1986. Owning a still to manufacture such spirits without a federal permit is still illegal.
  • Under 26 USC Section 5601: If an individual violates the federal regulations regarding distilled beverages, he is going to be charged with punishments on account of committing felonies under the federal court of law.
  • Under 26 USC Section 5686(beer): Unlicensed Liquor and/or manufacturing stills possessed in violation of part (angel) would result in authorities seizing such belongings.
  • According to 26 USC Section 5615: Any unregistered apparatus would be subject of forfeiture, if found by the authorities.
  • Under the federal law 5601(a)(12): Any raw material, and means of transportation, including vehicles or vessels that might have been used in the manufacturing process, or containing the extracts would also by seized by the government.

Important links

To learn about free still plans, still recipes and safety and precautions, you can visit www.stilltutorials.com

You can easily apply for license by simply filling out this simple form http://www.ttb.gov/forms/f511074.pdf.

Important points to remember are, 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

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.

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