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Distillation question

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I know, this is probably as dumb a question as it gets, but...

 

If one started with an ethanol base (one that has already had liquor tax collected), where is the harm in distilling a "home-made" absinthe? Especially for personal/non-commercial purposes? Excepting safety issues, of course... Yes, I know it is illegal to distill alcohol without a permit, but I'm not talking about producing "de novo" alcohol for consumption.

 

After all, it is entirely legal in the U.S. to distill other products (lavendar oil, for example). And safety would be a primary concern there as well.

 

(Hiram, if this hews too closely to taboo territory, feel free to delete).

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Nope, you're fine.

 

Nobody said the laws make sense, there are lots of bad laws.

 

Safety isn't the issue, the gov just doesn't want to miss out on the elevated tax revenue that spirits bring in—it's that simple.

 

It's perfectly legal to make alcohol: home brew beer and wine are legal. It's when you turn that alcohol into higher proof—and higher tax bracket—spirits that it becomes a problem.

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I know wine doesn't require a still, but what about beer?

 

On a similar topic. The Duplais text has a recipe for Swiss Vulnerary Water which is not meant to be ingested. Can this be technically legal to make?

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Beer doesn't require a still, just a couple of buckets.

 

No form of alcohol distillation is legal without both state and federal permits. If you do anything, with any apparatus, the aim of which is to extract ethanol from any other fluid, it's illegal. Even those little one-shot, glass, desktop brandy stills are illegal.

 

Trust me, I've been researching the hell out of this. If there were a loophole, I'd have found it.

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Given that there are no apparent instances of hobbyist-level home distillers being prosecuted, it leads me to suspect that there may be some provision buried very deeply and obscurely which allows it, but I'm 99.9% certain that's wishful thinking. It's much more likely that they just don't give a crap unless you stick it in their face.

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I believe there have been some recently, but at least one was an accidental find. I don't think the government is going after tiny scale home stills like they are meth labs or legal marijuana using cancer patients.

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Medical marijuana use is illegal, regardless of state/local law. The Supreme Court made that quite clear.

 

An alternative regulatory approach to the issue has been undertaken by one organization. You can go the Item # 20 for more information.

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HHS received a request from Americans for Safe Access, a medical marijuana advocacy group on October 6, 2004. The request concerns information on the continuation of marijuana control under Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act. The Office of Public Health and Science responded to the request on April 20, 2005
April 20th?? 4/20??? :laf: Those ironic bastards!

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Hmmmmm... the "Data Quality Act requirement that information used and disseminated by federal agencies meet standards for "quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of information." These standards have been defined as requiring lack of bias, consistency, and disclosure of the underlying rational basis for the agency's conclusion."

 

Curiouser and curiouser.

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Medical marijuana use is illegal, regardless of state/local law.  The Supreme Court made that quite clear.

Well yes, although in places where it was voted legal the state and local law enforcement don't often prosecute people for it. The supreme court made it quite clear that money wins over common sense. That being said it would seem that the government is busy spending their resources on other things such as harassing cancer patients than tracking down private distillers. That doesn't mean it doesn't happen.

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Hmmmmm... the "Data Quality Act requirement that information used and disseminated by federal agencies meet standards for "quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of information." These standards have been defined as requiring lack of bias, consistency, and disclosure of the underlying rational basis for the agency's conclusion."

 

Curiouser and curiouser.

Indeed.

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There was an arrest in North Carolina a few months ago. An arrest in July (complete with pictures).

 

This article about a moonshine bust a couple of years ago is notable since it states,

But, for now, the U.S. Attorney's office can point to the arrest of more than 50 bootleggers during the past two years.

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Nope, you're fine.

 

Nobody said the laws make sense, there are lots of bad laws.

 

Safety isn't the issue, the gov just doesn't want to miss out on the elevated tax revenue that spirits bring in—it's that simple.

Although the primary purpose for the law is simply tax revenue; there are several safety issues with home-distillation. One is the obvious issue of alcohol vapour and open flames, as well as other fire risks.

 

Anther is one that many "garage" distillers don't think about, and that's methyl, propanol, and butynol contamination (more typical for wine/fruit distillations than for grain).

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Given that there are no apparent instances of hobbyist-level home distillers being prosecuted, it leads me to suspect that there may be some provision buried very deeply and obscurely which allows it, but I'm 99.9% certain that's wishful thinking.  It's much more likely that they just don't give a crap unless you stick it in their face.

 

 

Well, at least once a year, I hear of them busting a small-time 'shiner in KY, TN, or thereabouts.

 

Still, I figure it is really as you said where they are busting the 'shiners making it in enough bulk to allow for sales.

 

 

Again, it's all about the money.

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... seized over 200 gallons of the illegal liquor.
...nearly 82 gallons of moonshine they confiscated...

Definitely not hobbyists.

 

We won't be reading "Sherriff's deputies seized over four liters of illegally made absinthe and destroyed the 10 liter capacity stovetop still..." It's just not that that sexy of a bust. I mean, can anybody visualize bringing a 10-liter "Exhibit A" into the courtroom? I can hear the laughter already.

 

Luchog: Most of us are pretty aware of the practical safety issues with distillation; my comment was aimed at the reasons for the laws, which are economical—as attested by the fact that they are prosecuted by the IRS.

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If home stills were a hot button issue you can bet they would try to fluff up that 10 liter still as a menace to society, children, the deaf, and local stray kittens. I've heard of a couple Marijuana busts that went like that. The government spent a huge amount of money staking out the evil doers and came out with less than an oz of illegal substance and a handful of paraphernalia but the way the news read it was like they took down a terrorist cell for life.

 

In other words, if you get on their radar you are probably screwed even if you are only distilling 5 liters, but the chance to get on their radar is slimmer than if you were producing a couple hundred gallons.

 

Based on their "street value" estimates home distilling doesn't seem like a very huge profit business. Well, until you go "legal" start soaking low quality herbs in your alcohol and calling it "highest thujonez" then you can make out like an ipecac dealer at an Olsen twins party.

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Although the primary purpose for the law is simply tax revenue; there are several safety issues with home-distillation.

 

Driving also has quite a few safety issues, but with a reasonable ammount of class time and paperwork (and some minimal fees), you can get a license to drive.

 

The requirements for obtaining a distilling license are pretty massive, such as having access to non-residential, non-commercial property to keep your still on.

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It would be interesting to be able to do, but I can't imagine it would be cost effective.

 

I brew beer from time to time and looked into wine making but I didn't believe I could make a better wine for the money. Beer, I can.

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I have yet to see a single story in the news media about a "threat to society" posed by people distilling liquor at home.

 

In the South, moonshining is a tradition that goes back a long ways. There is apparently a market for moonshine, as long is it less cheaper than legal alternatives.

 

But in most parts of the country, home distilllation is not perceived by anyone as a threat, nor does arresting home distillers mean a political jackpot for local officials.

 

So unless someone is operating an alcohol business outside of the local regulatory structure, home distillers are left alone.

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Yeah, but people get very concerned over clandestine meth-labs. I imagine more than a few "hobbyists" should be concerned about being mistakenly identified.

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Yeah, but people get very concerned over clandestine meth-labs.  I imagine more than a few "hobbyists" should be concerned about being mistakenly identified.

 

 

That's a darn good, and frightening, point.

 

I hadn't even considered it.

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No, but sample tubes & acoholmeters, bags and bags of ice, frequent trips dumping cauldrons of herbs and piles of empty gallon jugs. Xit would look aaaawwwfully suspicious.

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Plus, often higher-then norm energy use (they track that) too.

 

Half of all indoor pot operations are tracked when they notice that a houses' energy bill goes up considerably without rational explainations. (other then it's become a grow house)

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I'm more interested in a story about a homedistiller that was busted as a result of something he/she said on an internet forum.

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