Is it Legal to Make Your Own Moonshine in New York State?
Moonshine's been around for centuries, and while it's often referred to as more of a southern tradition its origins in this country are closer to the Northeast than you may think. Its roots in the United States actually point towards places like Pennsylvania, and other grain-producing states. Lower value crops could be turned into booze. Moonshine can be made from anything fermentable and there's no limit to its alcohol content, according to Mental Floss. But the industry really began to take off when the United States government started to tax and control the alcohol industry after the American Revolution.
Many years later, moonshining would later become even more profitable during Prohibition. However, 1802-1919 is seen as the "Golden Age" of moonshine in New York state, with the repeal of the Whisky Tax. The Civil War led to the reimplantation of the tax, which drove many distillers to work behind the back of the law. At one point, New York City was producing more moonshine than all the south combined.
And while distilling would come and go, and then eventually return to prominence in more recent times in New York, is making moonshine actually legal within the state? A number of distillers may slap the label of moonshine on their products you see at the liquor store, so is it the real deal? According to Distillate.org, it is actually still illegal to own a still (or, distilling apparatus) that is intended for use of manufacturing moonshine.
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.
- It’s only legal to distill alcohol in New York if you have a federal fuel alcohol permit or a Class A-1 Distillers License. See below for info on the distiller's license.
So, in short, the answer is still no. Making your own moonshine is not legal in New York. Of course, that'll never stop a lot of folks out there from trying.