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US Distilling Law Question

I am wondering if anyone can clear up a question for me. I am looking to purchase a still to "clean up" grain alcohol and make my own gin, vodka and whisky. Although I wouldn’t be making alcohol, I would be adding water to liquor and then running it through the still.

I was wondering if anyone had enough experience with the laws to be able to answer that question. I am not going to sell it, however I do plan to have a good amount on hand since I will be filling 10 gallon barrels with whiskey to age for several years. I am just looking to make sure I don’t get myself in trouble down the road.


  • This is not legal unless you are licensed to do so.

  • edited February 2017

    Even if I am purchasing grain alcohol at my local liquor store?

    Thanks for the info!

  • Yes, even then.

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  • edited February 2017

    There is no law stopping you from buying a few cases of white dog and putting it on oak to make your own bourbon. I mean, it would be silly to do it, since the cost would be astronomical, and you would be able to buy 4+ year old bourbon for less money than it would cost you to age your own. But, if you were genuinely interested.

    On the gin side, I've never heard of the TTB having issues with folks making their own liqueurs and macerations. As such you could probably make your own compound gin or other non-distilled botanical spirits without issue.

    In terms of "cleaning up" store bought grain alcohol? Not sure about that, since most commercial grain alcohols are decent quality neutral spirits. You probably aren't going to clean up a grain neutral spirit unless you have a few dozen plates on your rig. Also, you could never make a whisky out of grain alcohol, there isn't any flavor left. I think oaked neutral is an awful beast.

    You could carbon filter Everclear and water it down with whatever special water you have to make your own vodka. You could even get creative like the commercials and add citric acid and sugar to hit a target flavor profile.

  • @grim : he wants to own a still, and that's clearly illegal in all of the USA without either having a distillers license or one to make fuel ethanol. So it doesn't matter that you can mix, age, macerate without a license...

  • edited February 2017

    Never understood why home 'stillers talk about the fuel ethanol license. What's the point of getting a federal license, if your next step is going to immediately break the law and violate the terms of the license by making beverage alcohol?

    That's probably worse than just breaking the law in the first place. Not to mention you are telling the federal government that you own a still and are using it. Might as well put up a sign on your front lawn that you are cooking meth inside. You can't even argue that you didn't know or understand the law if you are a holder of the fuel ethanol license, because you clearly did.

  • @grim where you referring to me, or to home distillers in general? I didn't want to imply that @larry should get a fuel ethanol license so he can make liquor, I only wanted to make clear that he can't legally own a still. I agree getting a fuel ethanol license as an American home distiller is probably a stupid thing to do, it only puts you on the radar of the authorities.

  • Nah just in general.

  • go lobby you senator and representative to pass the 'craft beverage modernization act'...

  • @CothermanDistilling said: go lobby you senator and representative to pass the 'craft beverage modernization act'...

    +1 trillion.

    Hobby Distillers Association Member - Join us today!

    The only sillae question is the one you don't ask folks...

  • so the CBMA of 2017 dropped the home distilling language that the 2015 version had... grrr....

  • Noooooo.... Say it isn't true! How patient do we have to be?

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