General Question

jholler's avatar

Is homemade liquor illegal?

Asked by jholler (2379 points ) October 1st, 2008 from iPhone

or is it only illegal to sell it? You can make beer and wine for personal use, why would distilling spirits be different?

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23 Answers

blastfamy's avatar

I’m not sure that it is illegal. Eversince moonshine wasn’t taboo, I think everything’s legit.

girlofscience's avatar

No. Not illegal.

SpatzieLover's avatar

Not illegal in my state unless you sell it…Depends where you live.

If you live in a dry county, well, then you’d already know the answer to your own question.

jholler's avatar

but a dry county only prohibits the SALE of alcohol without a permit. I can still buy a beer fermenting kit at wallyworld in my dry county.

SpatzieLover's avatar

ahh..then I guess it depends on the county…I’ve been to two where it’s all a no go. They did it to prohibit moonshine, too.

eyeguy's avatar

Each spot on the planet has its own set of rules not to mention morals and codes of conduct concerning ethanol. I know, I used to live in UTAH.

JackAdams's avatar

The Jack Daniels distillery is located in Lynchburg TN, which is in a dry county. The whiskey can be made there, but it cannot be sold there.

laureth's avatar

Brewing your own alcohol, such as beer, wine, or mead, is not illegal – you can make up to a certain number of gallons per person in your household per year.

HOWEVER, “liquor” implies that this product has been distilled. Without a permit, yes, this IS illegal and can get you into a lot of trouble.

Harp's avatar

It is not legal anywhere in the US to distill spirits without a federal license, even for personal consumption.

According to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms:

“You cannot produce spirits for beverage purposes without paying taxes and without prior approval of paperwork to operate a distilled spirits plant. [See 26 U.S.C. 5601 & 5602 for some of the criminal penalties.] There are numerous requirements that must be met that make it impractical to produce spirits for personal or beverage use. Some of these requirements are paying special tax, filing an extensive application, filing a bond, providing adequate equipment to measure spirits, providing suitable tanks and pipelines, providing a separate building (other than a dwelling) and maintaining detailed records, and filing reports. All of these requirements are listed in 27 CFR Part 19.

Spirits may be produced for nonbeverage purposes for fuel use only without payment of tax, but you also must file an application, receive ATF’s approval, and follow requirements, such as construction, use, records and reports.”

(source)

EmpressPixie's avatar

Harp has it and I am fairly certain it is because of the high alcohol content and high chance of things going bad. Bad moonshine can have really horrifying consequences.

JackAdams's avatar

Even bad Moonshine can serve a worthwhie purpose, if it is poured into your vehicle’s gas tank.

Harp's avatar

As for the reasons for the tight restrictions, there are some health concerns, as EP mentions. Poorly constructed stills can introduce toxins into the alcohol, and some methanol (which can cause blindness) can be produced along with the desired ethanol. There are also serious risks of fire.

But the biggest reason for the regulation is that the government makes lots of money on liquor taxes AND the liquor producers vigorously protect their turf.

Snoopy's avatar

Another interesting problem historically seen w/ traditional moonshiners is saturnine gout. Saturnine gout is a form of gout caused by lead exposure. For moonshiners, this can occur from lead in the pipes used in the distilling process.

JackAdams's avatar

Snoopy, most of the homemade stills I have seen in my life (Kentucky, Tennessee) utilize copper tubing, not lead.

Snoopy's avatar

I am sure they do today. But I can assure you that at one time lead pipes were used and saturnine gout was a real issue among moonshiners.

JackAdams's avatar

Then it must have been the same for many folks who, until they learned about PVC pipes (or copper ones), had lead pipes in their home plumbing systems.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@Jack——yeah I HAD to go there (jack Daniels) as a kid on a trip w/my parents.

There are counties which are COMPLETELY dry. So moonshine is made in the shed or basement.

dalepetrie's avatar

I think it’s amazing we have so many widely varied laws. Some counties you can’t drink. Some you can’t buy liquor on Sunday. Some you can only buy it onsale on Sunday (bars are open, but not liquor stores). Some states you can buy liquor in the grocery store, some you can’t, and some you can only buy weakened versions of beer. Some you can distill, some you can brew, some you can’t do anything.

What else do we do that with? Only thing that comes to mind is strip clubs. Some towns won’t allow them, some will, but only in certain areas, some anywhere goes. Some are fully nude, some are topless only, sometimes it depends on whether or not liquor is served. I read that there is or maybe was (I don’t go to them so I don’t know…not morally against it, just went to one once and it wasn’t my scene) a club where I live in St. Paul where because either you can’t serve liquor in a strip club, or you can’t serve liquor in a fully nude strip club, I forget which, they decided to split the room in half by a big pane of glass so you could drink on one side while watching the strippers on the other. American ingenuity at it’s finest.

Oh yeah, and for some reason I can’t buy a car on Sunday here in Minnesota either?

SpatzieLover's avatar

In Wisconsin you also can’t buy a car on sunday…but, you can buy your minor a beer so long as you are sitting with him/her while they drink it ;)

GregDOC's avatar

I know one man who can answer this question. Popcorn Sutton. His illegal moonshining is featured in the documentary “The Last One,” available here in the DOC Store: http://documentarychannel.com/store/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=364
Sutton took his own life in 2009 before having to serve a prison sentence related to liquor distillation.

ItsAHabit's avatar

The U.S. federal government prohibits homemade distilled spirits for the simple reason that at least half the retail price of a typical bottle of spirits consists of a variety of taxes on the beverage. In short, it’s all about tax revenue.

ItsAHabit's avatar

Government officials argue that moonshine is a serious health hazard because many illegal producers use vehicle radiators in the process, which can potentially cause lead poisoning. However, safe home stills could easily be sold to solve that problem.

http://www2.potsdam.edu/hansondj/Controversies/20071221100130.html

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