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Distilling Legally? opinion, thoughts or ideas.

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Comrade Stone

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Well you guys sure are real fun but Tractor fuel is for the Tractor Now if thats what I call my little fellow in my pants or if i really own a tractor is for craigslist to know and any one else well good luck.
 

antialiased

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It is my understanding that distilling at home for consumption is illegal in every country on the planet except New Zealand.
Not in Ecuador; as long as it isn't sold, consensus on the law appears that home distillation (for personal consumption) is legal here.
 

Stormcrow

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Federal law supersedes any state or local laws. States and localities may be more strict, but not less. Federal law provides no exemptions for the production of distilled spirits for personal or family use.

These may provide additional info:
Is Making Moonshine Legal?
The Truth About US Law and Distilling Alcohol at Home

There is also a Hobby Distiller's Association that has a state-by-state break down of home distilling laws. This groups is working to get personal use exemptions for hobby distilling.
History Of The Hobby Distiller’s Association - Booze Makers
While i agree with your first paragraph, its worth mentioning that this didn't stop several states from legalizing marijuana without permission from the feds.
 
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Jako

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While i agree with your first paragraph, its worth mentioning that this didn't stop several states from legalizing marijuana without permission from the feds.
Good point. I wonder if we would ever see something like this
 

lump42

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While i agree with your first paragraph, its worth mentioning that this didn't stop several states from legalizing marijuana without permission from the feds.
Nor did it stop Kentucky from legalizing the production of industrial hemp. It is legal in several states already if it wasn't illegal federally (Alaska, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Rhode Island). It's also worth mentioning that unless you are stupidly open about it or try to sell distilled spirits, you're likely not to see any legal ramifications.

Good point. I wonder if we would ever see something like this
As of this year, the Hobby Distillier's Assoc, which was advocating and lobbying for the legalization, has folded due to lack of funds, per the site below.
 

bracconiere

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Nor did it stop Kentucky from legalizing the production of industrial hemp. It is legal in several states already if it wasn't illegal federally (Alaska, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Rhode Island). It's also worth mentioning that unless you are stupidly open about it or try to sell distilled spirits, you're likely not to see any legal ramifications.


As of this year, the Hobby Distillier's Assoc, which was advocating and lobbying for the legalization, has folded due to lack of funds, per the site below.

just looked up arizona. read this, lol

Every person having in his possession or custody or under his control a still or distilling apparatus shall register it with the director under the rules the director may prescribe, and every still or distilling apparatus not so registered, together with all mash, wort or wash, for distillation or for the production of spirits or alcohol, and all finished products, together with all personal property in the possession or custody of, or under the control of any person, which may be used in the manufacture or transportation of spirituous liquors, and which is found in the building or in any yard or enclosure connected with the building in which the unregistered still or distilling apparatus is located, shall be forfeited to the state.


seems really vague, and harsh.

so if i was brewing beer and had a little cute 1 gallon water distiller?
 

BigEd

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While i agree with your first paragraph, its worth mentioning that this didn't stop several states from legalizing marijuana without permission from the feds.

One big difference here is that there is no federal tax on cannabis. While there are regulations to be met on site requirements and meeting guidlines for producing a consumable product the federal liquor laws are mainly about making sure the excise tax on alcohol is collected.
 

bracconiere

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about making sure the excise tax on alcohol is collected.

i've always been skeptical about that often repeated comment. i think it's about thought control, and them knowing people are willing to sell their souls. so they want to hold the power.
 

Stormcrow

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One big difference here is that there is no federal tax on cannabis. While there are regulations to be met on site requirements and meeting guidlines for producing a consumable product the federal liquor laws are mainly about making sure the excise tax on alcohol is collected.
Bingo.
 

LTBrewer

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One big difference here is that there is no federal tax on cannabis. While there are regulations to be met on site requirements and meeting guidlines for producing a consumable product the federal liquor laws are mainly about making sure the excise tax on alcohol is collected.
Not sure what the difference the state would make when you are charged with a federal felony. I've seen a few gov careers ended for those that thought different. If you're open to a bloated government agency with no oversight decide if it is worth it to bankrupt you or not, have at it. The state by state liquor laws are there to protect the breweries, who have lobbied extensively for them.
 

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It is my understanding that distilling at home for consumption is illegal in every country on the planet except New Zealand. The old saying is true. 3 people can keep a secret if 2 are dead. :)

Cheers
Jay
For what I know, distilling for home consumption is legal in Russia. Distilling in public stills (town, quartier stills) if not at home is allowed in Romania, Hungary, and probably also in Bulgaria. I believe those countries also allow home distilling for personal consumption. The EU forces Hungary, Romania (and Bulgaria) to levy an excise tax on this home production, but the exaction of those taxes is typically not enforced for political reasons.

In Italy distilling, only in public stills and for personal consumption, is "officially allowed" only in the Autonomous Region Friuli - Venezia Giulia. In the rest of Italy it is not legal without license, but distilling for personal use is not a criminal offence any more since a few years (it's an administrative offence, illecito amministrativo, and if you distill at home, your house cannot be searched for that, not even with a mandate from a judge I mean, because a judge can emit a search permission only for crimes). In theory every still sold must be registered with a certain government office, in practice this norm is totally ignored by sellers, State, Police etc.

Austria allows distillation of alcohol for personal consumption but the kettle must be 1 litre large (in theory). If memory serves, a similar legislation is in force in Germany.

The presence of public stills in Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary and Friuli - Venezia Giulia is a consequence of the historical permission granted during the Habsburg empire.

This source includes Italy and Ukraine in the list, but excludes Hungary, where it is certainly legal though:

Reading the homedistiller.org forum, the only country where, maybe, there is some attention by the police toward moonshining is the US, I mean the only country where if your ex-wife denunciates you at the Police, there is some probability that the Police rings your doorbell. I don't remember anybody from another country relating some arrest or trial, and even in the case of the US, the cases which are reported are typically connected to another, more serious crime.

I cannot say about Northern Europe countries, but I can say that the tradition of home distilling in Italy, Switzerland, Austria is alive and so engrained into the local culture that trying to suppress it it's like trying to trial people for blasphemy or "foul language" (they were also in the criminal code until recently, but for many decades there haven't been any trial regarding those crimes).

Spain, Portugal, Germany etc. should have the same situation de facto as in Italy: the law is merely nominal but there is no enforcement whatsoever. That's what I think is the situation, but I would be interested to know from German home distillers.
 
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Jayjay1976

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For what I know, distilling for home consumption is legal in Russia. Distilling in public stills (town, quartier stills) if not at home is allowed in Romania, Hungary, and probably also in Bulgaria. I believe those countries also allow home distilling for personal consumption. The EU forces Hungary, Romania (and Bulgaria) to levy an excise tax on this home production, but the exaction of those taxes is typically not enforced for political reasons.

In Italy distilling, only in public stills and for personal consumption, is "officially allowed" only in the Autonomous Region Friuli - Venezia Giulia. In the rest of Italy it is not legal without license, but distilling for personal use is not a criminal offence any more since a few years (it's an administrative offence, illecito amministrativo, and if you distill at home, your house cannot be searched for that, not even with a mandate from a judge I mean, because a judge can emit a search permission only for crimes). In theory every still sold must be registered with a certain government office, in practice this norm is totally ignored by sellers, State, Police etc.

Austria allows distillation of alcohol for personal consumption but the kettle must be 1 litre large (in theory). If memory serves, a similar legislation is in force in Germany.

The presence of public stills in Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary and Friuli - Venezia Giulia is a consequence of the historical permission granted during the Habsburg empire.

This source includes Italy and Ukraine in the list, but excludes Hungary, where it is certainly legal though:

Reading the homedistiller.org forum, the only country where, maybe, there is some attention by the police toward moonshining is the US, I mean the only country where if your ex-wife denunciates you at the Police, there is some probability that the Police rings your doorbell. I don't remember anybody from another country relating some arrest or trial, and even in the case of the US, the cases which are reported are typically connected to another, more serious crime.

I cannot say about Northern Europe countries, but I can say that the tradition of home distilling in Italy, Switzerland, Austria is alive and so engrained into the local culture that trying to suppress it it's like trying to trial people for blasphemy or "foul language" (they were also in the criminal code until recently, but for many decades there haven't been any trial regarding those crimes).

Spain, Portugal, Germany etc. should have the same situation de facto as in Italy: the law is merely nominal but there is no enforcement whatsoever. That's what I think is the situation, but I would be interested to know from German home distillers.
I lived in Germany for some years and IIRC, home distillation is not permitted, though like most places it is practised in secret by hobbyists.

I can't speak for all of Germany but we lived in a wine producing region that had a local weingenossenschaft, or wine grower's co-op, which operated a winery to handle all of the local wine production and bottling; they also operated a distillery that would, for a fee, process bushels of fruit into brandy, etc. When I asked about home distilling, I was told that it is too dangerous and that's why the community distillery was built, to give fruit growers a safe alternative. There was some chuckling about cellar explosions, etc. but I sensed it was more based in folklore than fact.

My neighbors had several fruit trees and every summer they would gather bushels of plums, berries, apples, etc. and take them in to the Genossenschaft. I don't know how the rest of the process worked exactly, but nearly of the houses in our street that I'd visited had racks of dusty bottles in the cellar. The ones I tried, red and white wines along with both white and oaked spirits, having between a few years and a few decades of age on them, were far better than I expected. One neighbor in particular lived in a large, centuries-old villa with terraced gardens and an extensive cellar. One night after dinner they shared a dusty bottle of plum brandy that had been made in the early 60's; it was incredibly smooth and the fruit flavors were so fresh you'd have thought it was picked yesterday. I'm not a big brandy drinker but that bottle stood out to me as the best fruit spirit I've ever had the pleasure of tasting. They also had racks of old local wines that were really nice but nothing like that brandy.

Most taverns and smaller restaurants also had a selection of locally produced Kräuterlikör, herb-infused spirits something like Jägermeister, but made with whatever selection of wild herbs that grow locally. It was offered to diners as a digestive after a rich meal, to aide the liver in processing all of that fat, colloquially referred to as Leberkleber, or liver-glue. For the most part these were in unmarked brown or clear glass bottles rather than commercial brands, and having a unique selection was part of the character of the establishment.

I impressed my German colleagues one night while dining in a tiny restaurant by invoking a long-dead but well known tradition; when the Frau came to the table to collect our empty plates she asked if we enjoyed our meal; I responded in broken German "Das Essen war ausgezeichnet aber fettig, ich brauche ein schnapps", basically, the food was delicious but rich, so I am in need of a schnapps. The tradition dictates a free small glass of herb liquor to clean up the liver. She responded indignantly, "but you sure cleaned your plate!" My friends all burst into laughter, asked me where the hell I'd learned that and told me she was likely to throw us out, but the waitress ended up serving all of us a shot. If not for the lively atmosphere it could have gone wrong, but it turned out well and most of us ended up taking cabs home that night.
 

Birrofilo

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Nice tale, @Jayjay1976.

Yes the risk of explosion from distilling is very much overrated, there have to be several conditions which must be present at the same time for an explosion to happen. Keeping the window open is sufficient to avoid the danger of explosion. I do have an "emergency water hose" ready in case of any fire, but that is also very difficult to produce, although stuff happens, so one must be prepared, and never let the still run on its own, unsupervised, when it works at alcohol-producing temperature. Fire from alcohol can be easily estinguished with water.

The relation between fat and alcohol is also absolutely correct. When you digest, the food bolus is formed in your stomach, and the gastric acids work on it from the outside to the inside. Fat digestion is slower than digestion of other nutrients, so after a certain time, let's say after 20-30 minutes, your bolus will be "coated" with fat, because when the acid "meets" the fat, digestion slows down.

If at that point (which means after the coffee and the coffee-talk) you take a Schnapps or another spirit, the spirit will dissolve that layer of fat which will allow your gastric acid to re-infitrate the bolus and the gases which were forming inside to get away from the bolus, and you will "burp". Your digestion will be improved as a consequence.

A typical way to call the spirit after a meal in Italy is "ammazzacaffè", "coffee-killer", because you drink it after the coffee, never before.

I remember when I was a child my aunt used to take Fernet Branca after lunch because that was told to her by her doctor. She was also married to a doctor which found that OK.
Nowadays there is this new wave of "subterraneous prohibitionism" and demonization of alcohol, and people saying alcohol is always bad for you, it's not food etc, and that's wrong.
 

Jayjay1976

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Nice tale, @Jayjay1976.

Yes the risk of explosion from distilling is very much overrated, there have to be several conditions which must be present at the same time for an explosion to happen. Keeping the window open is sufficient to avoid the danger of explosion. I do have an "emergency water hose" ready in case of any fire, but that is also very difficult to produce, although stuff happens, so one must be prepared, and never let the still run on its own, unsupervised, when it works at alcohol-producing temperature. Fire from alcohol can be easily estinguished with water.

The relation between fat and alcohol is also absolutely correct. When you digest, the food bolus is formed in your stomach, and the gastric acids work on it from the outside to the inside. Fat digestion is slower than digestion of other nutrients, so after a certain time, let's say after 20-30 minutes, your bolus will be "coated" with fat, because when the acid "meets" the fat, digestion slows down.

If at that point (which means after the coffee and the coffee-talk) you take a Schnapps or another spirit, the spirit will dissolve that layer of fat which will allow your gastric acid to re-infitrate the bolus and the gases which were forming inside to get away from the bolus, and you will "burp". Your digestion will be improved as a consequence.

A typical way to call the spirit after a meal in Italy is "ammazzacaffè", "coffee-killer", because you drink it after the coffee, never before.

I remember when I was a child my aunt used to take Fernet Branca after lunch because that was told to her by her doctor. She was also married to a doctor which found that OK.
Nowadays there is this new wave of "subterraneous prohibitionism" and demonization of alcohol, and people saying alcohol is always bad for you, it's not food etc, and that's wrong.
Fernet Branca is excellent, we seem to always have a bottle in the liquor cabinet. I also really like Helbing, a caraway and fennel flavored schnapps from Hamburg. Its best served ice cold so we keep it in the freezer. A shot of that immediately relieves the discomfort after scarfing down a bunch of pizza, and it's a great flavor combination. I wonder what a splash of Helbing would add to a pizza sauce?
 
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For what I know, distilling for home consumption is legal in Russia. Distilling in public stills (town, quartier stills) if not at home is allowed in Romania, Hungary, and probably also in Bulgaria. I believe those countries also allow home distilling for personal consumption. The EU forces Hungary, Romania (and Bulgaria) to levy an excise tax on this home production, but the exaction of those taxes is typically not enforced for political reasons.

In Italy distilling, only in public stills and for personal consumption, is "officially allowed" only in the Autonomous Region Friuli - Venezia Giulia. In the rest of Italy it is not legal without license, but distilling for personal use is not a criminal offence any more since a few years (it's an administrative offence, illecito amministrativo, and if you distill at home, your house cannot be searched for that, not even with a mandate from a judge I mean, because a judge can emit a search permission only for crimes). In theory every still sold must be registered with a certain government office, in practice this norm is totally ignored by sellers, State, Police etc.

Austria allows distillation of alcohol for personal consumption but the kettle must be 1 litre large (in theory). If memory serves, a similar legislation is in force in Germany.

The presence of public stills in Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary and Friuli - Venezia Giulia is a consequence of the historical permission granted during the Habsburg empire.

This source includes Italy and Ukraine in the list, but excludes Hungary, where it is certainly legal though:

Reading the homedistiller.org forum, the only country where, maybe, there is some attention by the police toward moonshining is the US, I mean the only country where if your ex-wife denunciates you at the Police, there is some probability that the Police rings your doorbell. I don't remember anybody from another country relating some arrest or trial, and even in the case of the US, the cases which are reported are typically connected to another, more serious crime.

I cannot say about Northern Europe countries, but I can say that the tradition of home distilling in Italy, Switzerland, Austria is alive and so engrained into the local culture that trying to suppress it it's like trying to trial people for blasphemy or "foul language" (they were also in the criminal code until recently, but for many decades there haven't been any trial regarding those crimes).

Spain, Portugal, Germany etc. should have the same situation de facto as in Italy: the law is merely nominal but there is no enforcement whatsoever. That's what I think is the situation, but I would be interested to know from German home distillers.

For what its worth, my cousin used to live in Romaina and it is very much not legal to distill there at home according to him and his wife anyway.
He also lived in the country or Republic of Georgia as well as Spain and again not legal to distill at home there either.

Cheers
Jay
 

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|I did see above that the home distillers organization went belly up, but I believe there are a couple other organizations looking to legalize distilling for home use. The biggest issue with the bootleg industry is they're selling the stuff without giving the government it's cut.
Honestly, as long as you're keeping it to yourself, and not making a big deal, you'd most likely not be bothered by anyone if you're doing it yourself. There's obviously enough information out there that someone relatively handy could build one themselves, and enough out there to but, even person-to-person, without getting stores or anything involved.
Also, part of the demonization was from the bathtub bootleggers back when, who would add other alcohols and stuff to boost volumes that weren't good for you to drink.
 

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For what its worth, my cousin used to live in Romaina and it is very much not legal to distill there at home according to him and his wife anyway.
It is possible that my information is inaccurate and that only fruit producers (people who have a vineyard, an orchard) can distill legally at home. It is also possible that people in Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary judge moonshine illegal because they actually don't pay the excise tax on it (nobody does) so it is illegal, but it's not the production which is illegal, but hiding it to the tax office.

There was a problem with the EU regarding Hungary but that, for what I remember, also involved Romania and Bulgaria a few years ago.
Hungary allows home distillation and did not levy an excise tax on the product. There is a limit on the quantity which can be produced (20 litres, or 100 litres, or so) but no excise tax. The EU said that allowing home distillation is OK but exempting from excise tax was not.

The problem with this is that excise tax is fixed at a certain absolute amount at EU level. The tax is €800 for hectolitre of pure spirit (100% alcohol) or if you prefer €8 for each litre of anhydrous alcohol.

This is obviously unjust for countries like Romania, Bulgaria and Romania, which have an average income which is the lowest in the EU, and it is easily 1/4 of the average income in Austria or Germany if we take the absolute Euro number.

This was a very "emotional" political battle in Hungary, where the prime minister, after some judicial skirmish with EU courts, had to introduce the excise tax for home distillers but promised not to enforce it (!).

Romania and Bulgaria have a general cultural and legislative and economic background which is similar to Hungary and for what I remember they have the same laws and the same problems with the EU.

Romania is actively "fighting" for obtaining, for itself and Hungary, a higher quota of excise tax exempt product in the new EU discipline of excise tax for alcohol, which leads me to believe that, at the moment, they do allow home production, although they - like Hungary - cannot, nominally, exempt it from excise tax.


But, again, "home" production may be limited to persons having an orchard. I don't know the law in detail.

It is certainly true that those countries have "public stills" and it is part of the local traditions to spend afternoons together distilling and making cuts at the public still. I suspect this is not only for fruit producers.

To put this in context, the Balcans are huge fruit producers: Romania alone is the fourth plum producer in the world, equalling more or less the USA. Fruit of first choice goes to the table, second choice goes to jams, juices etc, third choice gets distilled. You don't expect all that Godsend to be thrown away ;-)

According to this source, also Slovakia and Slovenia allow home distilling. Serbia is outside of EU and it also allows distilling in public stills and I do believe also at home.
 
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