There are a number of reasons that are advanced for why it’s not allowed to make whiskey at home, most of which center around quality control, personal and public safety.
For example, it’s often said that home distillation could lead to products that contain large amounts of harmful congeners, such as methanol – which can cause blindness or even death.
Another danger is the presence of large amounts of volatile substances being mixed together and heated, which has all the ingredients for an explosion that could burn your house down or cause damage to the neighborhood.
The cynical, and even government sources, will point out that the matter is simply one of tax collection by the Federal and State governments. Permits for a number of activities involving a moonshine still are easy to obtain.
Licenses for distilling, which are contained in the Federal Distilled Spirits Permit, require a number of norms to be adhered to, a hefty fee, and regular inspections.
In addition, the alcohol is taxed heavily, a “sin tax” concept that has not faced widespread pushback in modern times.
- 1 Whiskey Rebellion (1791-1794)
- 2 Is Moonshine Illegal in Texas? (2022 Updated)
- 2.1 Moonshine: Is It Illegal in Texas?
- 2.2 Distilling Laws in Texas
- 2.3 Why Alcohol Distilling is Illegal in Texas
- 2.4 Number of Gallons Allowed For Home Produce
- 2.5 Is It Legal To Own Moonshine in Texas?
- 2.6 Is It Legal To Sell Moonshine in Texas?
- 2.7 What Happens When You’re Caught Making Moonshine
- 2.8 FAQs
- 2.9 In Summary
- 3 Laws Surrounding Stills and The Production of Moonshine
- 4 Moonshine by country
Whiskey Rebellion (1791-1794)
Ironically, the origin of the Federal restrictions against moonshine without licenses date back to the period shortly after the ratification of the US Constitution (1789) and the Bill of Rights (1790).
The newly formed republic had substantial debts (to the tune of approximately $80 million) from the Revolutionary War and subsequent expenses.
Desperate for revenues, President Washington decided to levy an excise tax on whiskey.
This led to a popular uprising in Western Pennsylvania, where poor farmers, distillers and townsfolk protested that their fundamental rights (as just ratified under the Bill of Rights) were being infringed upon. There were a series of attempts at reconciliation, but matters kept getting worse till in July of 1794, things reached a head with an armed insurgency.
The rebellion was quelled by militia from a number of states, including New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Maryland (aided by a handful of Army regulars) but the die was cast – the Federal government had decided that whisky was a commodity whose production and distribution could be taxed to pay for the needs of the state.
These taxes were later repealed in 1802, when Thomas Jefferson was the U.S. President. The final nail in the coffin was put in place during the Civil War period. In 1862, President Lincoln signed a tax bill with sweeping effect on many sectors of the US economy, including Whiskey.
Revenues from taxing whiskey were so high over the next 60+ years, that it was hard to take the decision to impose Prohibition from a purely economic perspective. That trend continues to this very day – whiskey taxes are here to stay, and so too the restrictions on producing moonshine at home.
Is Moonshine Illegal in Texas? (2022 Updated)
Last Updated on October 13, 2022 by Lydia Martin
Despite the controversy that hovers around moonshine, many drinkers still continue patronizing the controversial spirit. Due to a huge loss in the tax revenue, some banned the spirit, while some states like South Carolina passed laws to legalize moonshine production. But, is moonshine illegal in Texas?
To finally break the controversy, our team will give you a solid answer based on our extensive research.
Moonshine: Is It Illegal in Texas?
Yes, moonshine is illegal to distill in Texas because it is an untaxed liquor. Moonshine is the term for unlicensed distillation of high-proof liquor or simply illegal whiskey.
Although the term spread widely during the Prohibition Era (1920-1933), its Texas roots produced illegally distilled spirits by early pioneers long before the 20th century.
Recently, the Texas Liquor Control Board categorized the moonshine problem in Texas as moderate because there is not much illegal liquor left there. Law enforcement agents only found two to four operators in Northeastern Texas despite being the traditional moonshine mecca .
Some bootleggers were still in East Texas, where they carried on the tradition of moonshining.
Also Read: Does Moonshine Go Bad?
Distilling Laws in Texas
The Texas State Law prohibits any individual from owning a still without obtaining a distilled spirits permit from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission.
It is to prevent manufacturing illicit beverages by illegally distilling alcohol, distilling water, or producing essential oils, regardless of whether it is for personal consumption or not.
On the contrary, the federal law allows citizens to own a still for personal consumption, but it is illegal to make moonshine or distill spirits. Except for making liquor, they are materials for distilling water or producing essential oils.
Since distillation instruments can also produce ethanol fuel, the proprietor should first obtain a Federal Fuel Alcohol Permit.
Why Alcohol Distilling is Illegal in Texas
Home distilling alcohol in Texas is illegal because it does not pay taxes. From the 1862 Revenue Act established during the American Civil War, homemade spirits and tobacco products are subject to taxes. There is also an issue of contamination for poorly-made unaged whiskey that poses a public safety risk.
However, it is perfectly legal in Texas to manufacture distilled spirits if the proprietor has a Commercial Distiller’s Permit. Production of distilled alcohol requires different federal licenses compared to the limited production of beer and wine.
Number of Gallons Allowed For Home Produce
Annually producing 200 gallons of homemade wine or malt beverages is perfectly legal in Texas . The actual law allows that much for alcoholic beverages but not for distilled spirits which makes moonshine illegal. Both federal laws and Texas State Moonshine laws allow owning stills when presented with proper licenses and permits.
The capacity of stills may vary from one distiller to another, but having less than 1 gallon will not be regulated by the Federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB). Despite that, the stills should be only for producing alcohol fuel or distilled water and not to distill alcohol itself.
- XXX Meaning On A Moonshine Jug
- Alcohol Percentage of Moonshine
Is It Legal To Own Moonshine in Texas?
No, it is not legal to own moonshine in Texas. According to federal law, any homemade distilled spirits should be paying taxes to the government. But owning distilling apparatus is federally legal as long as it will not be for alcohol distillation.
From 1876 to 1891, the local option laws started to prohibit liquor from the local legal stores in Texas. As the end of the Prohibition Era made it easier to own whiskey, the huge moonshining industry started to diminish.
Authorities all over the United States have been actively pursuing moonshine producers since the end of World War 2.
Is It Legal To Sell Moonshine in Texas?
No, selling moonshine is not legal in Texas. But there are liquor stores with moonshine products on their shelves which is confusing for many people.
As it is illegal to distill alcohol according to state laws, some enthusiasts argue that commercially-produced moonshine is not authentic.
Amid the American Civil War in 1861, Congress passed the law to collect taxes from distilled liquors and tobacco products as a strategy to raise funds.
Since moonshine is the illegal production of distilled alcoholic products, it is not subject to taxes upon selling. If caught, selling moonshine is subject to serious state and federal law violations.
What Happens When You’re Caught Making Moonshine
When authorities catch you making moonshine, you can be subject to a felony punishable by the state law of Texas or even at a federal level. Texas makes moonshining, which does not have a legal permit, has criminal penalties under the federal law of around $10,000 fine, up to 5 years imprisonment, or both.
The home distilling laws prohibit the illegal possession of unregistered stills or liquor for intentional state law violation. Authorities considered this a misdemeanor punishable by around a $5,000 fine, up to 1 year in prison, or both.
What’s the proof of Moonshine?
Moonshine usually has an alcohol content of 80-proof. There are also varieties with 120 alcohol proof which can easily get a person drunk.
Is it legal to own Moonshine for personal use?
No, it is not legal to own moonshine for personal consumption. It is also illegal to make or distill alcohol, but it is possible to own distillation equipment under federal law with the appropriate permits. The TABC Distiller’s permit allows a business to make or distill alcohol.
Texas makes moonshining illegal within its state and can be punishable by serious violations and criminal charges. The term generally means that it is the illegal distillation of liquor, and with more impurities present in the drink, it is also a concern of public safety risk.
Aside from that, the illegal production of alcoholic beverages also results in felony charges against the 1862 Revenue Act.
Recently, moonshining has become a minor problem even in Northeast Texas, where it started. Owning distillation stills is perfectly legal as long as there is a TABC permit, or else it could be a misdemeanor punishable by law.
Lydia Martin hails from Redmond, Washington, where you’ll find some of the best cocktail bars and distilleries that offer a great mix of local drinks.
She used to work as a bar manager in Paris and is a self-taught mixologist whose passion for crafting unique cocktails led her to create Liquor Laboratory.
Lydia can whip up a mean Margarita in seconds! Contact at [email protected] or learn more about us here.
Laws Surrounding Stills and The Production of Moonshine
Below is a list of each state’s law’s regarding the production of moonshine simply click on your state to see the applicable laws.
Don’t worry Canadian’s I didn’t forget about you. If your from Canada visit our post learntomoonshine.com/is-it-illegal-to-make-moonshine-in-canada for detailed information about provincial and federal laws surrounding the production of Moonshine for personal use.
Federal Distillation Laws – United States
According to federal rules, stills of any size are legal to be owned if not being used, nor intended to be used, to produce alcohol. In other words, if a still is only being used to filter water or make essential oils and these actions do not involve the distillation of alcohol, a still of any size is perfectly legal to have, according to federal rules, and no permits are required.
Additionally, distillation equipment can be used to distill ethanol if the still operator has a federal fuel alcohol permit. The permit is free, is easy to obtain, and is available here: http://www.ttb.gov/forms/f511074.pdf.
TTB Reporting Requirements
The federal TTB has the authority to ask distillation equipment manufacturers to collect and report customer information. Our interpretation of reporting requirements is that we sell copper sheet, pipe, fittings, not stills.
The parts and products sold by Clawhammer Supply, as they leave our door, are incapable of being used to separate alcoholic or spirituous vapors, or spirituous solutions, or spirits, from spirituous solutions or mixtures.
Additionally, the parts could not be used to construct a complete, functional still without significant modification (by the purchaser) and the inclusion of several additional parts (that we do not provide), such as copper tubing, hose, clamps, gaskets, solder, flux, welding wire, additional piping, etc.
However, we cannot guarantee that the TTB will agree with our interpretation of federal statutes. It is possible that the TTB could label us as a “distillation equipment manufacturer” and force us to supply customer information. However, we are not currently reporting to the TTB.
The Federal TTB (Alcohol and Tobacco Trade and Tax Bureau) is in charge of making sure individuals are not producing their own alcohol for consumption or fuel alcohol without proper permits. As stated above, it is legal to own a still to produce distilled water. Additionally, it is legal to produce fuel alcohol on the federal level with a federal fuel alcohol permit.
When is a Still Illegal to Possess?
According to federal rules, it is illegal to use distillation equipment to produce alcohol for consumption (distilled spirits) or fuel alcohol (ethanol) without proper permits. Fuel alcohol permits are free and are easy to obtain. Here is a link to the application: http://www.ttb.gov/forms/f511074.pdf
State Distillation Laws
Rules on distillation vary from state to state. However, in alignment with federal rules, it is illegal to produce alcohol for consumption or for fuel, on the state level, without proper permits. Make sure to check your state requirements for ownership and operation of distillation equipment before purchasing a still.
Regarding state and Federal laws: All State statutes and regulations are subject to existing Federal law; some States expressly make their licensing process subject to the applicant having obtained the necessary Federal permits or licenses and subject to Federal reporting requirements and other States do not; such Federal requirement, if they apply to the situation, would still be in effect regardless whether the individual State law made reference to them.
Additional information regarding State and Federal distillation law: The information, provided on this website, was gathered through online research. It should be noted that statutes can be amended, modified or even repealed, at any time and often there is a significant delay before the amendments and modifications are shown online.
In addition, many of the license and permit fees, listed above, are subject to change by the licensing board or agency, and the updated fee changes can also take substantial time to be posted online.
When applying for particular State license or permit, or when paying a State licensing or permit fee, or when relying on other information contained herein, a detailed check of the State’s records for updated information is suggested (See below).
The information gathered is primarily directed toward the legality of stills and distillery equipment, and the availability of licenses or permits for their use, and no detailed research was made, nor references are given, as to other requirements that a State may make after a license or permit is issued, such as annual report filing, tax payments, bond or license renewals, deadlines, inspections, etc. When applying for particular State license or permit, or when paying a State licensing or permit fee, or when relying on other information contained herein, a detailed check of the State’s records for updated information is suggested (See below).
The information, data and references, set forth above, are provided for informational purposes only are not intended to be relied upon by any person, or entity, as a legal basis for any act or decision whatsoever.
None of the information provided above is intended to give specific legal advice to any person, or entity, residing in any specific State.
Any person desiring to obtain, or make application for, any of the Licenses or Permits described above, or to own, possess, buy or build a still or other distillery equipment, should, prior to obtaining, or making application for, any such License or Permit, or owning, possessing, buying or building a still, or other distillery equipment, obtain the services of an attorney located in such State and have said attorney search that State’s records for updated and current statutory authority, existing tax and licensing regulations and other information.
This info was collected from http://www.clawhammersupply.com/ thanks for allowing us to use it.
Moonshine by country
Moonshine is a generic term for distilled alcoholic beverages made throughout the globe from indigenous ingredients reflecting the customs, tastes, and raw materials for fermentation available in each region. The term commonly applies to small-scale production, which is often illegal or tightly regulated in many countries.
List of modern moonshine
Fermented water is exclusively fermented with white sugar, yeast, and water. It can be refined into modern moonshine by means of distillation.
Countries and their moonshine names that commonly distill moonshine from fermented water:
- Cuba: Gualfarina
- Finland: Pontikka
- Latvia: Kandža
- Nicaragua: Cususa
- Poland: Bimber
- Russia: Samogon
- Saudi Arabia: Aragh
- Sweden: Hembränt (HB)
List of traditional moonshine/drinks
This is an alphabetic list of moonshine produced in various countries. The term bathtub gin refers to any style of homemade spirit made in amateur conditions of historical reason. Some distilled drinks on the list below are flavored, and some also national liquors.
- Aragh sagi
- Corn whiskey
- Desi daru
- Hokonui moonshine
- Jamaica ginger
- Kumi Kumi
- Newfoundland Screech
- Palm wine
- Śliwowica łącka
Zarbali is a distilled alcoholic beverage supposedly made from fermented raisins.
In Albania, moonshine (Raki) is the primary alcoholic beverage consumed on daily basis. It is made from different fruits, usually grapes, but also plums, apples, blackberries, cornelian cherry, strawberry tree, mulberry, persimmons, figs, juniperus and walnuts.
|A crude moonshine (aragh) device in an Armenian village|
The Armenian name for moonshine is Oghi. The production of oghi is widespread in Armenia. White mulberry, grape, cornelian cherry, plum, and apricot moonshine are especially popular, particularly in the countryside.
The Arabic word Araq (Arak) is derived from the Sanskrit word Ark, which means distillate.
Distillation of alcohol requires an excise license in Australia. The sale of stills and other distilling equipment, including yeasts, flavourings, and other ingredients specific to distillation, is legal.
After World War II, there was large-scale immigration from Italy, with many of the immigrants settling in irrigation areas with orchards and grapevines. Many of the immigrants made wine for their own use, which was perfectly legal. However, some of them gathered and fermented leftover grape skins, seeds and stems to distill homemade grappa.
Because of the woody seeds and stems, the raw liquor held substantial methanol; and there were occasional incidents of poisoning, sometimes at large parties, by distillers who had too much methanol in their moonshine.
Thus, the widespread deaths meant home-distillation has greatly decreased with later generations, and farm consolidation and led to the practice becoming illegal.
Typical West African spirits, sodabi is a palm liquor obtained from distilling palm wine. The word sodabi comes from the name of its Beninese inventor, who learnt the distillation technique from the European in the early twentieth century.
Brazil has a long tradition of home distilling, especially in rural areas. Artisanal liquors (especially cachaça made on small farms) tend to be of good quality and are prized by collectors.
One form that can be qualified as moonshine is known as “Maria Louca” (“Crazy Mary”). This is aguardente, made in jails by inmates. It can be made from many cereals, ranging from beans to rice or whatever can be converted into alcohol, be it fruit peels or candy, using improvised and illegal equipment.