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Home Distillation Laws

 
CaptainMalibu
(@CaptainMalibu)
Advanced Member

Does anyone know if the home distillation laws are any different in the USVI's than they are in the mainland US? I've always been interested in trying my hand at time home liquor production but I'm not too keen on doing jail time. I assume the same laws apply in the USVI, but I haven't been able to find anything on the web so I thought I would ask here.

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Topic starter Posted : December 18, 2015 10:57 am
vicanuck
(@vicanuck)
Expert

Who would know if you are distilling in your own home? The authorities don't even enforce basic traffic laws here. I say go for it.

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Posted : December 18, 2015 11:30 am
OldTart
(@the-oldtart)
Expert

Why would there be an issue if you're distilling in your own home for your personal use? As long as you're not selling it - THEN you might have a problem with local licensing laws. As far as I know there are no laws in the US or in most other countries which forbid you. Many of my stateside friends brew their own beers and make their own wines - and I've known several people here who've done it too.

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Posted : December 18, 2015 11:43 am
SkysTheLimit
(@SkysTheLimit)
Trusted Member

In the USVI they home brew Guava berry, make Mamawanna, Coquito, etc....AND they sell it. I would not be worried.

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Posted : December 18, 2015 1:22 pm
watruw8ing4
(@watruw8ing4)
Trusted Member

Why would there be an issue if you're distilling in your own home for your personal use? As long as you're not selling it - THEN you might have a problem with local licensing laws. As far as I know there are no laws in the US or in most other countries which forbid you. Many of my stateside friends brew their own beers and make their own wines - and I've known several people here who've done it too.

I know in PA, home brewing and distilling for personal use was fine. But there were limitations on the amount you were allowed to make.

As for the other, related "who would know" rhetorical question - not sure about distilling, but brewing can stink to high heaven. Neighbors usually knew when we were cooking up a new batch, if the wind was blowing in their direction.

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Posted : December 18, 2015 1:24 pm
ms411
(@ms411)
Expert

There are some home beer brewers on St John. One was at the holiday bazaar last week. His brews are available at Concordia, so he says.

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Posted : December 18, 2015 2:20 pm
sttanon
(@sttanon)
Advanced Member

Homebrewing beer and distilling liquor are WAY different in the eyes of the law. There is no provision in federal law for home distillation of alcohol ( http://www.ttb.gov/spirits/home-distilling.shtml)

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Posted : December 18, 2015 8:43 pm
OldTart
(@the-oldtart)
Expert

Seems so - can't distill without a permit even for home consumption!
This link may be helpful:

http://www.clawhammersupply.com/blogs/moonshine-still-blog/7155304-is-making-moonshine-legal

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Posted : December 18, 2015 8:50 pm
vicanuck
(@vicanuck)
Expert

Homebrewing beer and distilling liquor are WAY different in the eyes of the law. There is no provision in federal law for home distillation of alcohol ( http://www.ttb.gov/spirits/home-distilling.shtml)/blockquote >

Wow...all those laws make it sound so exciting and covert!

There must be money in it.

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Posted : December 18, 2015 9:18 pm
Bombi
(@Bombi)
Trusted Member

The coquito seasonal thing seems to go unnoticed by any regulatory body. must be 50 people selling it on the street and in stores. I'd just go for it and have a functional fire suppression plan at the ready.

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Posted : December 18, 2015 10:48 pm
CruzanIron
(@cruzaniron)
Expert

The coquito seasonal thing seems to go unnoticed by any regulatory body. must be 50 people selling it on the street and in stores. I'd just go for it and have a functional fire suppression plan at the ready.

The laws are regarding distilling. Blending drinks is a whole different thing.

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Posted : December 18, 2015 11:38 pm
Bombi
(@Bombi)
Trusted Member

So what? If you want to make or grow your own just do it. Guess what? No one will enforce the Law unless you are really stupid. Just don't blow yourself up .

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Posted : December 18, 2015 11:52 pm
sttanon
(@sttanon)
Advanced Member

The other thing about distiilling is that while in some ways concepts are the same there is a lot more to it than brewing beer.

In growing up I met quite a few old Moonshiners and have been there as a batch was whipped up. At the heart of it, making beer and making hootch is pretty much the same except for ingredients. You have a starch which provides the sugars, and yeast which poops out alcohol when it eats the sugar. With beer you have additional ingredients which provide flavors such as hops. The yeast that is used is way different between beer and hooch. Alcohol making yeast has to be way more hardy than brewers yeast due to the concentration of booze in the initial mixture. After ingredients are boiled together the mixture sits where it ferments and the sugars are converted to alcohol. After several days the conversion is complete and you bottle for beer or distill in case of hooch.

When distilling there is a lot more to it than just loading a still up and lighting a fire... The material construction is important which is why the old timers always used copper. Copper doesn't react with mixture. Less scrupulous 'shiners used to shortcut the cost and price and would use things such at old radiators to condense the vapor into alcohol. This would add such lovely trace elements such as antifreeze and or lead to the alcohol.
I was always told in buying shine you should put a bit in a shotglass, put a match to it, and if it burns other than blue don't drink it.,.,

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Posted : December 19, 2015 8:19 pm
CaptainMalibu
(@CaptainMalibu)
Advanced Member

Lots of great discussion, thanks. As I suspected, the same federal laws regulating the distillation of alcohol apply in the territories. I am fairly comfortable with the belief that as long as I am producing for personal consumption in my home I would be safe. It's more about an interests along the lines of a hobby rather than about financial gain or otherwise. It's sure not about saving money on alcohol. It would actually be quite the opposite.

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Topic starter Posted : December 19, 2015 8:57 pm
Spartygrad95
(@Spartygrad95)
Trusted Member

Lots of great discussion, thanks. As I suspected, the same federal laws regulating the distillation of alcohol apply in the territories. I am fairly comfortable with the belief that as long as I am producing for personal consumption in my home I would be safe. It's more about an interests along the lines of a hobby rather than about financial gain or otherwise. It's sure not about saving money on alcohol. It would actually be quite the opposite.

Exactly the cost of booze here is cheap. It would be a fun hobby but you wouldn't save money I'm quite confident.

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Posted : December 19, 2015 9:05 pm
ms411
(@ms411)
Expert

There used to be a brew club on St Thomas and they had regular events. The guys on St John seem to be active still so you should get with them. The one I talked to has been brewing for over 20 years. I liked his Christmas brew.

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Posted : December 19, 2015 9:10 pm
OldTart
(@the-oldtart)
Expert

Beer production doesn't involve distilling. Big difference.

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Posted : December 19, 2015 9:32 pm
ms411
(@ms411)
Expert

Yes, you're right, but OP hasn't said what he hopes to distill, so because of the craft beer craze, I'm a little confused. I thought he was hoping to brew beer.

Blackbeard's used to have an on site distillery that made delicious rums. It was small but quite popular. It seems to me that if you want to distill small scale there is a way to do it, but maybe not in your home.

I think the various beverage options sold from home and on roadsides are liqueurs. I don't think they're distilled.

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Posted : December 19, 2015 9:49 pm
OldTart
(@the-oldtart)
Expert

Yes, you're right, but OP hasn't said what he hopes to distill, so because of the craft beer craze, I'm a little confused. I thought he was hoping to brew beer.

Beer is not distilled but brewed. The OP questioned distillation. Totally different processes.

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Posted : December 19, 2015 9:55 pm
CaptainMalibu
(@CaptainMalibu)
Advanced Member

For clarification, I was inquiring about liquor distillation rather than brewing. I have dabbled with creating liqueurs and infused products. I'd rather enjoy trying my hand at building a small version of a still and producing spirits for personal use. I purchased a book a while back on home distillation and half way expected the ATF guys to show up at my door step. Perhaps they're watching my Amazon account to see if I've purchased any copper pots or tubing.

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Topic starter Posted : December 20, 2015 4:17 am
RevFD
(@RevFD)
Advanced Member

Federal law prohibits destilling for personal consumption. On top of that, some states place additional restrictions on whether you can own a still.

http://www.ttb.gov/spirits/home-distilling.shtml

Though, you can register your still and obtain a permit to make alcohol for fuel... discussed on a bunch of home brew websites.

Also, I assume you are aware there are some pretty real safety concerns involved with making liquor.

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Posted : December 22, 2015 5:34 pm
LiquidFluoride
(@LiquidFluoride)
Trusted Member

Federal law prohibits destilling for personal consumption..

In oregon Is is unlawful to use canned corn as fishing bait

Everyone ignores that law.

In the USVI it is illegal to turn with out indicating.

Everyone ignores that law.

I think your a big boy, you can make your own decisions on what's safe and what's not.

be safe 😉

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Posted : December 22, 2015 7:04 pm
IslandHops
(@IslandHops)
Trusted Member

Alan Alda used to do it in a tent. 😎

And if buying books and reading makes you suspect, we're all in trouble! I picked up a book recently with the titillating title of "Extra Virginity". Imagine my surprise when it turned out to be all about olive oil. 😎

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Posted : December 22, 2015 7:44 pm
CruzanIron
(@cruzaniron)
Expert

Though, you can register your still and obtain a permit to make alcohol for fuel... discussed on a bunch of home brew websites.

.

Ahhhh...the loophole! I'll bet there is no law against drinking fuel!

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Posted : December 22, 2015 8:23 pm
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