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Rash of "Home Distillers" ???


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Is it just me, or are we seeing a growing number of home distillers coming out of the woodwork? Absolutely nothing wrong with that, it's just an observation. In fact, that's where most of today's new distillers are coming from, truth be known.It would also explain the growing trend of small artisan distillers which are also popping up though.

It would appear that the TTB would also be interested in getting control of the this growing home group, more on a control and helpfull basis than a punishment one.

Over the past few years there's been some noise in Washington about allowing spirit production at home much as they have controls on home wine and beer production. I can see where this would be a good thing, even to sell a yearly stamp for a small home use amount. I know here in the state of Missouri they use the word 'spiriteous' in the homemade liquor/beer/wine laws allowing 200gal per year. So MO wouldn't have to re-write anything to allow legal production if the feds would.

I'm not talking about those who sell their homemade stuff, that's not right in any form.

Back to my question though.....are you noticing more of the home distiller variety surfacing? I know in my brew shop there isn't a week where the discussion of spirits doesn't come up between patrons.

Things that make you go ...hmmmmmmm. :P

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Guest Bonanza

I’m coming from HD (alias Rednose), a great, if not the best site for beginners.

Folks like Kiwi, Rad, Larry, Dnder, OldDog and many more are good mentors and home stilling gets easy and safe with their tips.

What I was observing is that some ex home distillers are licensed pros now.

Almost all my basic knowledge was coming from HD, I'm studying and practice every day and the quality get's near pro now.

In the country I’m living, distilling is legal but there isn’t very much interest to go that way.

My first idea was to use my still as a tourist attraction in my hotel but soon the first thirsty folks where asking if the booze is in sale and a local demand was formed.

So I took the opportunity, made some market research and decided to go licensed to be able to sell my products nation wide.

Here are two ways to do so, one is industrial and the other, the way I’m going, is artisan which has some good (tax and credit)advantages but requires more time (will finish all tramits in end of July).

If other governments do accept home distilling it would be necessary to control the quality of the stills and maybe a safety course would be ok.

Just saying everybody who wants to make his own likker can do so would cause some disasters I guess.

Joe

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Is it just me, or are we seeing a growing number of home distillers coming out of the woodwork? Absolutely nothing wrong with that, it's just an observation. In fact, that's where most of today's new distillers are coming from, truth be known.It would also explain the growing trend of small artisan distillers which are also popping up though.

It would appear that the TTB would also be interested in getting control of the this growing home group, more on a control and helpfull basis than a punishment one.

Distilling today is where brewing was in the late 70s. Almost everything in the US was produced by a few big players. There was a growing illegal craft movement going on in homes. A few of the home brewers had the money to make the jump to legitimate production and jump-started the microbrew revolution. Eventually the government came around, and the hobby came in from the cold when President Carter signed a Bill into Law legalizing it.

I see it as part of a more general food movement. Home brewing, commercial craft wine and beer making, cooking shows, brick ovens, "locovores", cheesemaking with its own sub-rosa trade in raw milk, the legalization of absinthe and so on are a definite trend.

The main impediments I see are lost tax revenue and the inherently more hazardous process of distillation. No, it doesn't have to be dangerous. But the worst you can do with beer or cheese is make a mess or cause a couple cases of tuberculosis with bad milk. Careless or ignorant people mixing open flames with real quantities of nearly pure ethanol is a much more explosive problem.

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In our Home Brew shop we sell ‘Still Spirits ®’ stills from New Zealand where distillation for personal use is legal. Hundreds, if not thousands, have been sold nationally as “water purifiers”. Just because someone throws away the water & chooses to keep the impurities is their choice.

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There are no doubt safety issues. In our country though people use chain saws all the time ( just had a fatality next town over, a bystander actually ), we allow guns - and hardly anyone thinks of the issues involved when driving several thousand pound vehicles around.

Allowing things help promote their safety though, it's folks that don't have any info and proceed anyway that take the big risks.

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There are no doubt safety issues. In our country though people use chain saws all the time ( just had a fatality next town over, a bystander actually ), we allow guns - and hardly anyone thinks of the issues involved when driving several thousand pound vehicles around.

Allowing things help promote their safety though, it's folks that don't have any info and proceed anyway that take the big risks.

Agree with all here on the safety issue. And on the education being a key to safety. If you can't share info you don't pick up on such things as not using glass as a catch container, or being sure to have a pressure relief built in on small systems.

One concern in our area has been with law enforcement thinking you're cooking meth. Had a report of a local deputy showing up to check out fellow's still in an outbuilding, sort of surprised him I bet. Anyway, the deputy just saw what was going on, talked a little, and went on down the road.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Be interesting to add to your survey, for response only by holders of DSP licenses:

"Do you support and/or encourage home distillers operating without regulatory oversight or license?"

And see what responses come in.

That's an interesting outlook, although I doubt you would get a truly honest set of responses. Only those against would respond.

For the idea of selling a product, yes, we need oversight and control. However, even within those bounds, we don't see proper licensing with the current system. Recently, at a distiller class, there was heavy discussion that those who don't perform distillation should not have permits the same as those who actually have a skill with the still. I speak of the NGS mixers, of which, unless they run it through a still, shouldn't have any distinction of being a true distiller, and shouldn't have the same class of license or be able to show their products in the same competetion class. But that's a different topic........

So, are we to understand you don't support brew shops educating the public and taking away the mystique of distilling? The real question I can't get an answer to is how is someone supposed to go out to find funding and produce a product without prior knowledge of the skill involved? That's a retorical question.........

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If you ask the average person, they'll honestly tell you that home distilling is legal. Making your own beer is legal. Making your own wine and mead are legal. They don't see why you couldn't make your own spirits; that such a thing would be illegal.

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If you ask the average person, they'll honestly tell you that home distilling is legal. Making your own beer is legal. Making your own wine and mead are legal. They don't see why you couldn't make your own spirits; that such a thing would be illegal.

That's the confusion I have to explain at the brew shop, federal trumps state law. At least in this case because the feds want it to. Other things, state over-rides them.

Anyway, state of Missouri law ALLOWS distilling by definition of what's allowed. Here's the MO statute...

311.020. Definition of intoxicating liquor

The term "intoxicating liquor" as used in this chapter, shall mean and include alcohol for beverage purposes, alcoholic, spirituous, vinous, fermented, malt, or other liquors, or combination of liquors, a part of which is spirituous, vinous, or fermented,.... Notice the use of 'spirituous'.

So yes we do get into a lot of discussions of who's right. The large majority still contends the state made it legal, so it is. I don't win many over by citing the federal law which doesn't allow ANY unlicensed still over 1gal, even for use with water, which is allowed below 1gal capacity.

Here's an easy to read explaination of why Missouri is considered such a sweet state to distill in, especially if you're legal! Escentially, we are wide open to produce and sell without state restrictions as long as you have your DSP and pay the taxes.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alcohol_laws_of_Missouri

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It is important to remember in this discussion about unlicensed distilling that what people talk about doing on the internet and what they actually do are often two different things. There is no rash of "home" distillers, there is a rash of people talking about it on the web.

In part, this is because of what Delaware said. People are surprised when they learn that you have to have a license to distill potable alcohol, period, no exceptions, even if it's "just for fun." Since news is whatever I'm just finding out, that's news to a lot of people and they want to talk about it.

But I think we need to adjust our thinking. What people like to call "home distilling" is not so much prohibited as it is unaddressed. That's why I say there is no "ban on home distilling," as people often say. Instead, there is a requirement that producers of potable alcohol be licensed so they can be taxed. It doesn't matter if you intend to sell the alcohol, because the tax isn't based on what you sell. It's based on how much you make. That's why anybody who makes alcohol has to be licensed.

The so-called "ban" also has nothing to do with safety. As hobbies go, home distilling is probably more dangerous than needle point and less dangerous than chain saw juggling, but that has nothing to do with the law requiring producers of potable alcohol to be licensed so they can be taxed.

That's also why the licensing system doesn't care if you manufacture the alcohol yourself or not. Non-distillers don't pay the FET but there are lots of other alcohol taxes they do pay. The licensing is about more than taxes. It is justified by the need to regulate distribution of alcohol for the public welfare. You may not agree with it, but it is public policy in the United States to control potable alcohol more than, say, potato chips.

When moonshiners get busted they like to portray themselves as harmless hobbyists, but Max Watman's Chasing the White Dog puts the lie to that fairy tale. Probably most of the people here who have made a moonshine connection have been told that the guy, "just makes a little bit, just likes to keep his hand in, mostly just makes it for his friends." Or some similar fiction.

In the real world, the people who get busted are all large scale, commercial producers. A person with a small still who uses it as a true hobbyist and practices minimal discretion (i.e., doesn't brag about it on internet bulletin boards) will never be busted. Why? Because nobody is looking for you, nobody cares. There is not a single agent in any alcohol control agency anywhere in the United States tasked with finding and busting hobbyists. And it is alcohol control officials, federal and state, who do alcohol busts, not local or state cops. That's because while it is criminal, the crime is tax evasion.

So the bottom line is that the people bitching don't care about not being able to distill, they care about not being able to tell everybody that they distill. That's why they want it to be 'legalized.' So they can talk about it.

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It is important to remember in this discussion about unlicensed distilling that what people talk about doing on the internet and what they actually do are often two different things. There is no rash of "home" distillers, there is a rash of people talking about it on the web.

That's why I say there is no "ban on home distilling," as people often say.

Well, COWDERY, we disagree on several other threads, but I'll have to agree with you on this one, at least 95%.

First, there's simply too many US based sites with info, pics, how-to, along with actual stills being sold on ebay and other spots, to say it's all talk, no action on the part of the home distillers. But anyone selling, bartering, or otherwise distributing is doing wrong, we agree there also. Gee, that was easy.

Second, it is actually banned by the verbage in the TTB laws. Specifically the verbage pertaining to restrictions on what the land may be used for. I'm in reference to the fact you can't have a licensed distillery on the same property as a residence. So in effect, they do ban "home distilling".

I am, again, in agreement with the overall essence of your post.

Maybe I should have made this thread more like "Home Distillers Coming to the Surface".

Anyway, I didn't really see this topic going this deep. Figured the poll would get used and that's about it.

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Second, it is actually banned by the verbage in the TTB laws. Specifically the verbage pertaining to restrictions on what the land may be used for. I'm in reference to the fact you can't have a licensed distillery on the same property as a residence. So in effect, they do ban "home distilling".

That's a red herring. Saying you can't have a still in your bedroom is hardly a "ban" on "home distilling."

As for my first point, perhaps I should have said that the people doing hobby distilling and the people talking about it are not necessarily the same people.

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That's a red herring. Saying you can't have a still in your bedroom is hardly a "ban" on "home distilling."

As for my first point, perhaps I should have said that the people doing hobby distilling and the people talking about it are not necessarily the same people.

COWDERY.....you just can't adjust to me being in agreement with you :lol:

Just relax and savor the moment..........

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Easy on Chuck, he's an attorney and can't help himself.

But he's right, there is no ban on "home distilling" per se, it is a ban on unlicensed distillation. The "home" in typical zoning codes is usually inclusive of the entire property; but for the purposes of the regulations it is not a "home" which is restricted, but a "residence". So if you want to make whiskey at home, you can apply and adjust an out building and have your garage serve as the DSP and BONDED WAREHOUSE.

And I have to repeat, in agreement with Chuck, you can distill as a hobby, with a license; so the complainers are not bitching about being prohibited from making their own spirits. They are bitching because they must do some paperwork and become a register their works.

The "hobbyists" have the luxury of avoiding the law. But as has been pointed out already, it's the braggarts who are problematic. Efforts to put spirits on the same level as home brewers and home wine makers is a waste of time, which time you could use to get your license so you could actually have something to brag about and the right to do so.

But please, enough already about "home distilling". If you are a hobbyist and making hootch in the basement keep your mouth shut except to taste. "Legalizing" so called home-distillation, by definition, means the government is going to stick its nose in your business. It is legal, it just requires permits.

R

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It all comes down to playing with words for some folks apparently.I got bashed here over the question of 'what is an oak container' and told I was simply playing with words. Folks, you are doing the same with the term 'ban on home distilling'.

It is absolutely impossible to have a DSP or warehouse in any building which is part of the parcial of land where a residence is. You have to have the land where the DSP is licensed on a seperate surveyed section piece of property all by itself. It can have the same owner name on the property as the residence, but cannot be the same piece of property. That's direct from the TTB, in person. Their comment when asked about a variance was that it was an absolute law, so variances wouldn't apply. In our case it wasn't too hard to fix, just survey out land around the building so it was on it's own plot.

So, there is absolutely a ban on 'home distilling' if you can't have a DSP and distill in a home.

I started this thread just to see if others were seeing folks coming out of the darkness. I don't think I ever mentioned anyone was complaining about the law, so someone interjected that on their own.

It's just that there had been several newcomers here 'announcing' their status as home distillers, sort of unusual from my going back through the older parts of the site.

We'll just consider this thread closed and abandon it......around the camp-fire discussions of any topic just don't do well here.

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It is absolutely impossible to have a DSP or warehouse in any building which is part of the parcial of land where a residence is. You have to have the land where the DSP is licensed on a seperate surveyed section piece of property all by itself. It can have the same owner name on the property as the residence, but cannot be the same piece of property. That's direct from the TTB, in person.

I strongly doubt that this is factually accurate. For example, I know of small (and licensed) farm-based fuel alcohol distilleries that I doubt are on seperately surveyed pieces of property from the farm residence. I also know of several bourbon distilleries in Kentucky that have residences on the property. I suppose it's possible those parcels are "seperately surveyed," but when you start to put it together that way, it just seems silly.

Yes, it is semantic to an extent, but it helps for people to broaden their way of looking at things to look beyond merely what they want to be the case, i.e., pissing and moaning.

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We'll just consider this thread closed and abandon it.

You keep saying this, but wether people talk or wether they say things you like to hear is just not up to you. :) If you employ this attitude while talking to the TTB or our other agencies, you may not get the most helpful responses.

I notice in another thread Bill Owens has subtitles it " a better idea is a bed breakfast distillery". I remember in one of his books he shows a Bed and Breakfast where they had to install the still in a small extra building that looked like a gazebo or something. I also think they have farm distilleries around here that are not on separate plots. You would obviously need some type of non residential zoning, perhaps that was what the TTB was trying to say. If you have a farm you live at a business address, I suppose.

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The TTB is clear on this topic. And we are the example. Our "bonded premises" includes our entire property (a single surveyed lot) and all the working buildings of the distillery. I live on the property in a house that is not attached to the nearby distillery and barrel storage buildings (I can spit out my window and hit the distillery, but I don't, really).

The regulation reads, direct from the CFR:

§ 19.131 Restrictions as to locations.

Distilled spirits plants shall not be located in any dwelling

house, or in any shed, yard, or enclosure connected with

any dwelling house, or on board any vessel or boat, or

on premises where beer or wine is produced, or liquors

of any description are retailed, or (except as provided in

§19.133) on premises where any other business is

conducted.

When in doubt, go to the regulations.

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That's the nice thing about laws. When properly drafted, they mean what they say. You can't have a distillery in a dwelling house nor in any out building that is connected with the dwelling house. Nothing about surveyed lot. Laws are also good about not saying what they don't say. The clear intent is that the plant can be in an out building on the same property so long as it is not connected with the dwelling house.

It's certainly possible someone at TTB gave out some bad information, but if a TTB official said the plant has to be on a separately-surveyed piece of property, that official was in error. It's not what the rule says.

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From the Concise Oxford English Dictionary:

connect • 1. bring together so as to establish a link > be related in some respect > join together so as to provide access and communication > put into contact by telephone

From the latin words meaning "bind" + "together"

I guess someone could construe the broad, general meaning, but that's not the interpretation TTB has followed post-Prohibition. Not only in the more distant past but more recently as Ralph points out.

As far as the rash of home distillers, I'd agree that they should probably refrain from mentioning that here. The unofficial TTB policy seems to be "don't ask, don't tell". They'd certainly rather have legal micro distillers rather than hobbyists, but there's little point in going after the latter given the insignificant revenue loss. There's a number of sites devoted to the hobbyist all emphasizing safety. And there's some cross-over between those sites and here. I think that's really good as some of those hobbyists may choose to become professional, and that's where this site becomes valuable.

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Check out the BEGINNERS section of the forum, there is a post there now VODKA: HELP. It reads:

brewgasm has just posted a new topic entitled "Vodka help!" in forum "Beginners".

----------------------------------------------------------------------

Hey everyone need some help. I just made my first batch of vodka, but I am getting smell that reminds of of nail polish remover. Its my first batch so i dont feel to bad but what can I do to avoid this in the future?? any help would be great.

I can not think of a better argument against lending any support to the notion of unregulated "home distilling" than this post. The topic of the question is probably one of the most fundamental pieces of information a qualified distiller knows. It is unfortunately not unusual and points to the fact of the potential for the unwitting production of toxic materials by uninformed amateurs. It is not beer or wine, the goods are alcohols (note the plural) at high concentrations, some of which are toxic.

R

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But regardless of the illegality of the activity, toxicity of some of the byproducts, the person in question did it anyway. And there are many other people doing the same thing. A little internet searching reveals at least four internet forums dedicated to home distilling or hobby distilling, and educating people by making available basic information on spirits, their manufacture, and safety.

I don't think it should be the purpose of this forum nor ADI to provide advice on their distilling activities because our goals are towards supporting the legal craft distilleries.

There's a large number of dangerous activities, some legal, some not. The illegality of marijuana hasn't stopped it from being estimated as the largest cash crop in America (over $50 billion annually). The dangers of tobacco smoking are well known, but they're still legal.

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I deleted this once and sent the person a message, to which they did not respond, so I deleted it again. No home distilling advice is appropriate on this site. this site is dedicated to learning about opening a distillery, and for advice for those in the process of getting their DSP or who have it.

JMF

Check out the BEGINNERS section of the forum, there is a post there now VODKA: HELP. It reads:

brewgasm has just posted a new topic entitled "Vodka help!" in forum "Beginners".

----------------------------------------------------------------------

Hey everyone need some help. I just made my first batch of vodka, but I am getting smell that reminds of of nail polish remover. Its my first batch so i dont feel to bad but what can I do to avoid this in the future?? any help would be great.

I can not think of a better argument against lending any support to the notion of unregulated "home distilling" than this post. The topic of the question is probably one of the most fundamental pieces of information a qualified distiller knows. It is unfortunately not unusual and points to the fact of the potential for the unwitting production of toxic materials by uninformed amateurs. It is not beer or wine, the goods are alcohols (note the plural) at high concentrations, some of which are toxic.

R

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