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Owning a still doesn't require a DSP, but hooking it up does.

John McKee

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Hey all,

In some research of the CFR for a customer, I found the information listed below. I've often heard people suggest that you can't legally take receipt of a still or distilling apparatus without first obtaining your DSP. The CFR below seems to suggest otherwise.

Just an FYI and if I'm incorrect in my reading, please let me know. Cheers.

From 27 CFR 29.55 - Registry of Stills and distilling apparatus:

(a) General. Every person having possession, custody, or control of any still or distilling apparatus set up shall, immediately on its being set up, register the still or distilling apparatus, except that a still or distilling apparatus not used or intended for use in the distillation, redistillation, or recovery of distilled spirits is not required to be registered.


( b ) When still is set up. A still will be regarded as set up and subject to registry when it is in position over a furnace, or connected with a boiler so that heat may be applied, irrespective of whether a condenser is in position. This rule is intended merely as an illustration and should not be construed as covering all types of stills or condensers requiring registration.

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Some of the states, however, make it illegal to own the coil or condensor without federal/state registration. Not living in those areas I'm not sure where to look to verify that though with the exact laws quoted.

From what I've read on it they treat it like a silencer, just having one can get you in trouble.

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I want to start with making Gin. What if I want to buy a small "test still" to only distill junipers berries and multiple botanical's to "learn" what each one brings to the table? (I know a distiller or two who have done this to develop their recipe, both in NY state). Wouldn't this be legal?

I could then blend various levels of these with a wheat based Vodka to help develop "rough recipes". Or is that just silly thinking... thoughts?

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You are correct... 29.55 says when you set it up you must register it... not register it before...

Which infers that you can buy one without having a DSP... as soon as you hook it up to a power source, you have to register it... and the below also implicitly states it...

27 CFR 19.75(B) says you need to supply the serial number to register(could be your serial number or manufacturers), and if it is your first registration, it is before getting your DSP issued, correct? not impossible, but difficult to get a serial number without owning it..

(B) The serial number, kind, capacity, and intended use of each still in the plant. ..

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  • 2 months later...

I know this is a little old, but any idea how you register a still that you've made?

Making it for resale? resale- stamp it with a number and keep track who buys it, never heard of TTB asking to 'see the books' but it could happen.

If for yourself is it used for production or just to look at? Production-register it, looks only- nope.

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Here's the New York Law on the matter of owning distilling devices: Stills and distilling apparatus. Any person who shall

manufacture any illicit alcoholic beverage or who, not being duly

licensed as a distiller under the provisions of the alcoholic beverage

control law, shall own, operate, possesses or have under his control any

still or distilling apparatus is guilty of a felony. "Still" or "

distilling apparatus" shall mean any apparatus designed, intended,

actually used, or capable of being used for or in connection with the

separating of alcoholic or spirituous vapors, or alcohol or spirituous

solutions, or alcohol or spirits, from alcohol or spirituous solutions

or mixtures, but shall not include stills used for laboratory purposes

or stills used for distilling water or other nonalcoholic materials

where the cubic capacity of such stills is one gallon or less.

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Classic Chicken and Egg dilema. You can't file for your DSP without having the still (or serial number) and a lease on a building and be ready to run. At this point you have more than likely filed your LLC or Corporation with the state and begun the waiting game which should protect you in most states.

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  • 2 months later...

So i actually contacted the TTB about this..

They said that anyone can manufacture a still but before the still leaves place of origin the "state" has to be notified (they didn't say who in the state, presumably state TTB officers) with the name and address of the purchaser. Incidentally the website Brewhaus.com recently notified purchasers that all the records of the people they sold a still to (and its size/etc) has been handed over at the request of the TTB or DEA, don't remember exactly.

I asked this because I am in the process of manufacturing a still for our distillery and wanted to make sure I wasn't going to jeopardize our license..Thanks to all those that commented and sorry for the late posting - I can't get this forum to notify when a reply has been made..

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