Thursday, May 12, 2016

You Can Buy Your Own Spirits Still, You Just Can't Use It

     Here's the good news. You can own a spirits still. There's no law against that. There's even a company, Clawhammer, that will sell you a beautiful copper still that's designed specifically for producing booze. The bad news? You can't actually make booze in that still. "It's legal to own a still of any size," says Kyle Brown, founder of Clawhammer. "You can have it for decoration, distilling water, distilling essential oils. but it's illegal to distill alcohol without having either a distilled spirits permit or a federal fuel alcohol permit."

     A Federal Fuel Alcohol Permit, which is free and easy to get. "We've never heard of anyone being denied this permit and have never heard of anyone even being checked up on after obtaining the permit," Brown says. The ingredients, the process, and even the final product is the same when making high proof distilled spirits and fuel alcohol. "With this permit, you can make distilled spirits," Brown says, "but the product is supposed to be used for fuel alcohol purposes only."   Legally, you're not supposed to drink it. You're supposed to put it in your lawnmower.

     The real question is what is being done about this?  There is an outfit called the "Hobby Distillation Association" that is working toward legalization for the hobby distiller. 


    The Hobby Distiller's Association is working towards the legalization of hobby distilling.   Unless you live in New Zealand it is most likely illegal for you to distill alcohol at home, even if it is purely as a hobby. This is in contrast to making beer or wine, which is legal in most countries without permits, licenses, or payment of tax. It is time for change!   The hobby distiller is not a backwoods moonshiner distilling for profit.    He often uses sophisticated equipment, distilling mainly for enjoyment, and often as the next step in the legal hobby of wine or beer making. 
     In the United States, distilling alcohol without proper permits is illegal.   And although there are permits for distilling alcohol for use as a fuel, there's no such license for distilling small amounts of beverage alcohol.   That leaves the hobbyist with two options- distill as a hobby illegally, or don't distill. The HDA (Hobby Distillation Association) is pressing to change to this by forming the first single, unified, consistent, and strong voice for the hobbyist.   “We absolutely do not support ‘moonshining’ activities where individuals sell their shine for profit.”.

     It is going to be interesting to watch if this idea of making small quantities of drinking spirits for personal consumption will ever happen here in America.   Right now you can get into serious trouble if you get caught today.

Troy Roberts of Drum Circle Displaying his 1 Gallon Research Still at the Miami Rum Festival