Better And Better

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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Pissed. Off.

Point of fact: I should like to try my hand at distilling spirits.
  • As I cannot afford the taxes and permit fees to do so, it would illegal to attempt to do so, regardless of whether or not I ever sold a drop of it.
  • As a guy who enforces the law, I do my best not to break it.
  • Thus, I can't make moonshine.
  • Even though I know I could. It would be easy. I've understood the principles of the process since high school.
  • This pisses me off.

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21 Comments:

At Thursday, December 31, 2009 8:53:00 AM, Blogger Phillip said...

There's taxes and permit fees for making moonshine for personal use? Huh... I don't think some people I know are aware of that. Is it a state law where you are?

 
At Thursday, December 31, 2009 10:07:00 AM, Anonymous Shrimp said...

And people wonder what I mean when I say that we are not a free nation anymore. You need a license for this or have to pay a tax on that, or get permission in the form of a permit for some other thing.

And, yes, I recognize that we definitely have the best system of government anywhere on Earth, and that we are probably the freest people on Earth. However, that doesn't mean we can't do better still.

If perfect freedom is a zero, and absolute lack of freedom is a 10, and we fall at about a 5, and the rest of the world is about a 7 or 8, that doesn't mean we should stop and pat ourselves on the back because we're more free than they are.

Yet we do. And all the while, government creeps towards totalitarianism, just as Jefferson predicted it would.

And for the record, this particular issue is as old as our country. President Washington sent troops because of it.

 
At Thursday, December 31, 2009 11:17:00 AM, Blogger Mulligan said...

good for you

too many folks out there just ignore laws they find inconvenient, instead of getting off their ass and helping change 'em.

we don't have to like it but we ALL gotta live by the rules

 
At Thursday, December 31, 2009 1:10:00 PM, Blogger Matt G said...

Phillip: No, it's not the state law that I'm thinking about; it's federal law. Shrimp beat me to the punch:
"And for the record, this particular issue is as old as our country. President Washington sent troops because of it."

Brewing not more than 200 gallons of beer or wine per household is legal, so long as it is not for sale. Distilling without a license, and the attempts to tax and confiscate the moonshine by revenuers, is the stuff of Dukes Of Hazzard episodes, which supposedly were based on stories told by bootlegger shine runner Jerry Rushing, about his exploits in the '50s and '60s.

 
At Thursday, December 31, 2009 2:45:00 PM, Blogger Phillip said...

Huh... Didn't know that. I've never found the desire to make my own moonshine, and when I'm back home in WV I can get it whenever I want. Of course, those of us from WV probably gave Heinlein the idea for obeying the laws we don't find too annoying and ignoring the ones we don't care for.

Frankly, I do miss the WV attitude of "You leave me alone and I won't bother you." I live in FL now, and I love the weather, but I had to move out in the country a bit to be left alone even a little.

 
At Thursday, December 31, 2009 3:44:00 PM, Blogger Crucis said...

There is a limited amount that you can make for personal use. I don't remember exactly how much, but it's a least several gallons. Twenty gallons seems to ring a bell, but you should check to make sure.

It depends on what you want to do with it. Use it for yourself, give a bit to friends, or sell it. In the latter case, then you'd need tax stamps, etc., from the ATF.

Gramma made some very nice Apple-Jack.

 
At Thursday, December 31, 2009 4:29:00 PM, Blogger Old NFO said...

Just 'another' one of those things... sigh

 
At Thursday, December 31, 2009 4:53:00 PM, Blogger Rabbit said...

President Washington distilled grain spirits at Mount Vernon. They excavated the stillhouse a few years ago.

I seem to recall reading that he made several gallons in the last year of his life. I've heard he had a volume of production that he paid a lower tax than small producers the way the tax was instituted.

Albert Gallatin missed an opportunity, in my opinion, but that's another story for another time.

To my best recollection, every taste I've had of 'indigenously-produced' white spirits pretty much gave me an instantaneous headache, but recalling the source, it was likely cut with varsol.

Regards,
Rabbit.



Regards,
Rabbit.

 
At Friday, January 01, 2010 9:34:00 AM, Blogger Pawpaw said...

I admit I thought it was legal to home-distill a certain amount of spirit, but it appears I'm wrong. A quick Google turned up a .gov page that says you still must have a permit and pay a tax.

http://www.ttb.gov/faqs/genalcohol.shtml

I don't know how to do links here, but you can cut and paste it.

That must be the reason Daddy broke down his still.

 
At Friday, January 01, 2010 10:13:00 AM, Blogger JPG said...

Rabbit - -
I guess I was lucky, in my only encounter with real, live, distilled-in-the-hills 'shine. Years back, an old friend did a lot of traveling, picking up and delivering prisoners between states. He invited me over one evening and wanted me to try some home made liquor. I had reservations, having heard tales of sloppy moonshiners who ran the product through old truck radiators for condenstion. My pal assured me that THIS stuff was produced by a cousin of the High Sheriff of a particular county, an old-timer with very high standards.

The liquid was a lot darker than the "white lightning," totally clear liquid I'd seen but not tasted before. Seems the far-away craftsman somehow acquired actual, second-hand charred oak barrels from a famous distillery, and aged the product for several months therein. It tasted fairly smooth. Jim made a batch of Manhattans and we drank it up. I had some supper and one more drink afterwards. I suffered no stomach upset nor vicious headache, but I DID get pretty drunk. I was in no shape to drive home for some hours thereafter. ;)

JPG

 
At Friday, January 01, 2010 10:43:00 AM, Blogger Ted said...

Thought about distilling my own, then remembered what my chemistry grades were.

I did much better in biology, so I'll stick to brewing.

 
At Friday, January 01, 2010 2:46:00 PM, Blogger J.R.Shirley said...

I understand. Yet another malum prohibitum law.

 
At Friday, January 01, 2010 8:30:00 PM, Anonymous Matt M said...

You have to be careful when distilling your spirits. A friend told me about his experience in an alcohol unfriendly middleastern country. The fermented a batch, then rigged up a distilling apparatus on top of the stove. There were some leaks, and the alcohol traveled down the outside of the hood and pot, to the stove top. Alcohol flames are almost invisible, so these guys almost toasted themselves before getting the thing under control.

Distill outside, or even in a shack back in the woods. It is safer.

 
At Saturday, January 02, 2010 9:05:00 AM, Anonymous Andrew Weitzman said...

I've been reading online how-to's on home distillation of late. However, the memory of my one attempt at home brewing (dandelion wine) ending in exploding bottles on the porch stays my hand much more than the legal consequences!

 
At Saturday, January 02, 2010 2:08:00 PM, Blogger Matt G said...

Andrew, you just needed some Campden tablets to stop the fermentation. No biggie.

Distillation does an even better job, as it evaporates the more volatile ethanol and then condenses it into another vessel. As your wort or mash or wine will have been boiled, the yeast is dead, dead, dead. No blown up bottles.

Man, I wonder if a man could buy a $100 tax stamp and just brew up a tiny batch? Seems to me that I read that there's some kind of federal inspection of all stills. Basically, a homemade pot still is like a homemade autosear. Bah.

 
At Sunday, January 03, 2010 8:39:00 AM, Blogger John B said...

well I distilled my own back in the day 1978-9 for fuel. (Sarah Palin wink). If you denature it, it used to be tax free for experimental use. I used to denature it by pouring it into the fuel tank.....

 
At Monday, January 04, 2010 8:46:00 AM, Blogger Tam said...

Mulligan,

"too many folks out there just ignore laws they find inconvenient, instead of getting off their ass and helping change 'em.

we don't have to like it but we ALL gotta live by the rules
"

That's as much a cop-out as disregarding all the rules you don't like.

At what point does Civil Disobedience become appropriate? Your approach goes to reductio ad absurdum way too easily:

"Sorry buddy, you gotta get in the cattle car. I don't like the law and I'm working to change it, but until then, the law's the law and we all gotta live by it."

 
At Monday, January 04, 2010 12:57:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some of the homebrew shops in the state have very nice water distilling equipment. They are so nice that the thermometers go from 212F down way below 180F ;)
Steve

 
At Monday, January 04, 2010 3:45:00 PM, Blogger Don Meaker said...

Distilling is taxed. The other way to increase your proof is to freeze. Alcohol freezes at a lower temperature, so if you put some in a jug, and freeze it a bit, what you can pour out will be more alcohol and less water (water being locked up in ice). That was the recipe for turning apple cider into apple jack. And freezing requires no tax.

 
At Tuesday, January 05, 2010 2:00:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don,
Fed laws treat freezing as a form of distilling. :( sorry

 
At Thursday, January 07, 2010 2:42:00 PM, Blogger Newbius said...

Matt,

Actually, you CAN do home distilling, as long as it is for biofuel for your vehicle. You can distill up as much alcohol for personal vehicle use as you can afford the supplies to make.

What you cannot do is drink the result. ;)

See: http://vlex.com/vid/sec-distilled-spirits-for-fuel-use-19210807

and: http://running_on_alcohol.tripod.com/id10.html

and: http://homedistiller.org/

Cheers!

Newbius

 

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