Distilling Legally At Home: Part Deux

Distilling at home is a subject we discuss a lot around here, and it’s both pretty cut and dry and pretty hazy at the same time. Federally it is illegal to distill alcohol at home without a permit, and most permits require you to distill at a different address than your home address.

However, while home distilling is federally illegal, each state has its own regulations and many variations of local laws. There are too many states and localities in the US to go into in this article, so we’re going to focus on Federal regulations and local laws here in Florida. 

The only way that we’re aware of distilling alcohol legally is if you get a license. There are several different kinds between the beverage alcohol, fuel alcohol, and experimental permits, and figuring out which one is right for you is pretty straightforward. If you’re looking to distill alcohol commercially, you’ll need a Distilled Spirits Plant (DSP) permit. This permit allows you to produce and sell beverage alcohol, and you will be taxed on the proof gallons produced.

A Fuel Alcohol Permit allows you to make fuel-grade ethanol for use in vehicles or any engine that can burn ethanol for fuel. The requirements and costs are usually lower for this class of permit, but you cannot consume or sell any alcohol under this class of permit.

The experimental permits are given on a case-by-case basis, and you cannot consume or sell any alcohol produced under this class of permit; it must all be destroyed. Experimental permits are primarily for educational or equipment R&D facilities and are not that common. All of these permits are going to come with some sort of bookkeeping and reporting requirement to ensure that all laws are being followed and no additional tax revenue is due. 

Florida home distilling laws don’t leave much room for leeway on unlicensed distilling. Not only can you not distill alcohol legally, but you also can’t even own the parts to make a still legally. Needless to say, this makes it very difficult to distill at home here in Florida legally.

Other states make exemptions for distilled water or essential oils at home so that you can get a feel for the equipment and how it operates before starting your own business, but Florida does not allow this and is stricter than the Federal law. In the US, it is federally legal to have a still and distillation equipment, but you cannot use it to distill alcohol legally. 

So how can someone get started with distilling and not get on the wrong side of the law?

While you may not be able to get started legally in the comfort of your own home, more craft distilleries are popping up all over the place. You may be able to talk with one of them and learn a thing or two about the industry, and there’s a good chance that once you get to know them, they likely won’t turn down cheap (or free) labor.

Leave a comment below and let us and others know your best tips for distilling legally or give us a call at (561) 903-4689 to discuss getting started in the distilling industry.