Home Distilling Laws
The distillation of spirits is governed federally by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) www.ttb.gov – a sub-department of the U.S. Treasury. All of the information a distiller needs to get started can be found on their website. The home page for distilled spirits is located at http://www.ttb.gov/spirits/index.shtml.
The application required to distill spirits is called the “Application for New Distilled Spirits Plant (Beverage)” – Description at: https://www.ttbonline.gov/permitsonline/h/OriginalAppDesc.htm#Alcohol
Online applications at: https://www.ttbonline.gov/permitsonline/
PDF (viewable) application at: http://www.ttb.gov/forms/f510024.pdf
The TTB also publishes a helpful tutorial for getting started as a Distilled Spirits Plant (DSP) at http://www.ttb.gov/industry-startup/spirits/spirits-startup.shtml . The word "plant"; seems a bit of an overstatement for a guy who just wants to make a few jars of whiskey, but the TTB makes no distinction based on size, and the same rules apply to everyone.
Home Distilling Application
The first stage of the application process involves completing a packet that explains whom the application is for, what he/she/it will be making, and where it will be made. The application must then be signed and sent to:
TTB, National Revenue Center
550 Main St
Cincinnati, OH 45202-5215
After your application is received, the TTB will do a background check to make sure the applicant is allowed to operate a distilled spirits plant. The applicant will also be asked to complete a telephone interview in which the application is discussed and corrections are made. The interview may be followed by an on-site investigation, after which an approval or denial will be issued.
Distilling License Fees and Costs
Licensing fees for operating a DSP can be found at: Title 26 of the United States code, section 5081(b). Operations with less than $500,000 in annual sales qualify for a small proprietor rate. The application to distill ethanol for use in vehicles is considerably cheaper and less complex and can also be found on the TTB web site.