State Overview state laws

Owning a still in Kentucky for the intended purposes of distilling moonshine is illegal, and being caught with a still for the purpose of distilling moonshine is a Class B misdemeanor, with additional convictions being Class A misdemeanors.

The law specifically states that:

Revised Statute Section 244.170, Apparatus for unlawful manufacture prohibited.
No person shall buy, bargain, sell, loan, own, possess or knowingly transport any apparatus designed for the unlawful manufacture of alcoholic beverages

Because the law specifically only states “designed for the unlawful manufacture of alcoholic beverages” this should mean a still is legal if not used in the manufacture of distilled spirits / moonshine, and should be legal to own for distilling essential oils, water, vinegar, etc. But the design could be considered by the authorities to be useable for distilling moonshine and could be illegal regardless of the intended use, so I would say that it is not legal to own a still for non-spirit manufacturing.

Kentucky ABC website

Fuel manufacturing state laws

Kentucky does offer a license to manufacture ethanol. Apparently permits are required from various agencies or must be met and does not sound like something that can be done on a personal level. So even though it can be done legally it might not be realistic to be done on a personal level, so I am going to say it’s unlikely to be possible.
Tax Registration Application for Motor Fuels License

Legal manufacturing licenses & regulations

Kentucky distiller licenses
Kentucky offers two different commercial licenses. Class A costs $3,090 and a Class B costs $1,000 per year.

There are several licenses you need to request to legally manufacture spirits. Below are the federal licenses only. Additional state requirements will need to be followed as well.

You must submit a request for a license to manufacture spirits: TTB 5110.41 Basic permit.

This license only allows you to produce spirits. You also need a license for the distilling equipment / distillery: TTB 5100.24 Distilled spirit plant

For manufacturing ethanol fuel you will need to submit a request for a TTB 5110.74 for a federal license.

Posession stills & moonshine

Kentucky Statute Section 244.170 provides that “The following property, even though found and seized in dry territory, is contraband:

  1. Any and all material, equipment, implements, devices, firearms and other property used or intended for use directly and immediately in connection with the unlawful traffic in alcoholic beverages.
  2. Any alcoholic beverages in the possession of anyone not entitled by law to possess them.
  3. Any apparatus commonly used or intended to be used in the manufacture of alcoholic beverages and not registered in the office of a collector of internal revenue for the United States. The burden of proof that the apparatus is so registered shall be on the defendant.
  4. Any alcoholic beverages to which the revenue stamps or tax crowns have not been affixed as required by KRS 243.720 to 243.850.
  5. Any alcoholic beverages in a container of a size prohibited by law or prohibited to the particular party in whose possession they are found.
  6. Any vehicle, watercraft or aircraft in which any person is illegally possessing or transporting alcoholic beverages.

Being caught with a still is a Class B misdemeanor for the first offense and $250 fine, with subsequent offenses being Class A misdemeanor and a $500. Still, equipment and materials will also be siezed.

Transporting moonshine carries similar fines as well as loss of spirits and possible seizure of vehicle.

Federal laws

Current federal laws allow citizens the right to own a still and operate it for non-alcohol production.

This means legally you can:

Each state and even counties have their own laws that may supersede federal laws.

It is your responsibility to know the laws in your area.