While technically it could be considered legal to own a still if it is not used for moonshine production the wording of the statute leaves the decision of if the still could be used for alcohol production to the authorities and court, and chances are they will decide against the owner of the still.
My overall opinion is that no you will not be able to legally own or use a still for non-ethanol production simply because every still could easily be used in the production of illegal spirits.
- A person may not sell, or suffer to be sold, or for the purpose of sale, transport, buy, possess, keep or suffer to be transported, bought, possessed or kept in any vehicle, vessel or aircraft or on any premises or under the person’s charge or control any alcoholic beverages unless otherwise provided for in this article or the Tax - General Article.
- A person may not manufacture, blend, rectify, bottle or suffer to be manufactured, blended, rectified or bottled any alcoholic beverages except on premises licensed under this article unless otherwise provided for in this article.
- A person may not buy, bargain, sell, borrow, lend, manufacture, possess, transport or suffer to be bought, bargained, sold, lent, manufactured, possessed or transported any apparatus, materials, equipment, implements, devices or other personal property designed, used or intended for use directly or immediately in connection with the unlawful manufacture of alcoholic beverages. The apparatus, materials, equipment, implements, devices or other personal property shall be deemed contraband and may be confiscated and forfeited as provided in this article.
- Any vehicle, vessel or aircraft used with the express or implied knowledge, consent or permission of its lawful owner for the purpose of violating any of the provisions of this article relating to the unlawful manufacture of alcoholic beverages or which is used to transport, store or secrete illicit alcoholic beverages shall be deemed contraband and may be confiscated by the Comptroller or his duly authorized enforcement officers and may be forfeited as provided for in this article.
- A license or permit is not required for the manufacture of family wine, beer, or cider exclusively for home consumption, competition, or use in a licensed national family wine exhibition and not for sale.
To manufacture ethanol fuel in Maryland you will need a state license for producing ethanol as well as all federal licenses. Because this license is for only commercial purposes it is unlikely you could use it for personal uses, or at minimum you would be paying taxes and supplying all monthly paperwork.
Maryland does offer some licenses to distill spirits in some places, but you may need different or additional licenses depending on what you’re doing. For example you need a different license to blend or rectifying spirits. You will need to look up specific laws and requirements for your area, county, town, etc. Overall costs for just the Class 1 manufacturer's license is $200 for filing and $2,000 yearly permit fee.
A Class 1 manufacturer’s license:
§ g2b-2-202 A Class 1 manufacturer’s license:
- Establishment and operation in this State of a plant for distilling brandy, rum, whiskey, alcohol and neutral spirits;
- Sale and delivery of those alcoholic beverages in bulk to persons authorized in this State to acquire them; and
- Sale and delivery of those alcoholic beverages to persons located outside this State;
- Shall be obtained for each trade name and for each distillery in this State;
- Permits a distiller to manufacture alcoholic beverages in the name of another person or under a trade name, provided a distillery license has been issued to that other person or under that trade name, as the case may be; ¶
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.
Possession of a still is a felony and comes with a $500 - $1,000 fine and up to 5 years in prison. Based off the wording of the article it suggests that the still doesn’t even need to be in use, simply found in possession of the still.
Transporting illegal spirits or equipment that could be used in the manufacturing of moonshine can have your vehicle impounded and seized as well as all equipment and materials.
In addition to any other fines or penalties provided for the violation of the provisions of this article, any person convicted of the unlawful manufacture of alcoholic beverages or the unlawful possession of materials, equipment, implements, devices and other property used or intended for use directly and immediately in connection with the unlawful manufacture of alcoholic beverages within this State, shall upon conviction be subject to a fine of not less than $500.00 nor more than $10,000.00 or to imprisonment for not more than five years, or both fine and imprisonment, in the discretion of the court.
Current federal laws allow citizens the right to own a still and operate it for non-alcohol production.
This means legally you can: