Legal Questions

In a few countries, e.g. Italy, Russia, Ukraine, it has always been legal for amateurs to distil spirits at home for their own consumption. The freedom to do so is part of their tradition and culture. And recently (1996) New Zealand decided that it, too, would relax its former restriction on home distillation, and has found that it has not lead to widespread unemployment, people are not going blind, and there has been no attempt to sell home-made spirits without a license. For readers in such countries these books are simply manuals describing in detail how to make high-quality distilled spirits instead of the moonshine characteristic of homemade pot stills.

Readers in countries other than the above may, however, be apprehensive about buying a book which deals with such a controversial subject. There is no need for concern --- copies of the book have been sent to the Canadian Customs and Revenue Agency (CCRA) in Canada and to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms (BATF) in the United States, asking for comment. Both authorities replied that it is not illegal to write, sell or buy a book which deals with amateur distillation, but for the time being it is illegal to put it into practice without a license.

The recent advent of micro-distilleries in North America indicate that the slowly growing awareness of distillation is changing the outmoded application of the laws in Canada and the United States. And, there is a growing lobby to change the legislation to legalize home distilling in the United States, in the same manner that it's presently legal to make wine and beer at home.


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