Beginning prior to prohibition, the history of moonshine goes deeply into California’s past. It still maintains a tradition that is widely known and acknowledged. Yet, the arcane skills and talents used to produce illegal moonshine have largely remained unknown to all but a few enthusiasts who have a deep desire to taste the legendary stuff. With just a few episodes, the juggernaut that is popular television has changed all that. Highly rated shows like Moonshiners depict industrious rural citizens gathering everyday foodstuffs like corn, sugar, and yeast. Using simple hand tools, gleaming copper stills are crafted with a level of skill that can make a union-trained sheet metal worker envious. For the wannabe home still builder in California, however, there is a problem.
The problem is that the mere possession of a still is illegal under California law if it’s sole purpose is for making consumable ethanol, also called ethyl alcohol or drinking alcohol. However, they can be legally used in the production of distilled water, distilled essential oils as well as other non-alcoholic products (California Code Section 23032). Additionally, they can also be used for scientific and experimental purposes which do not concern consumable ethanol. Though it is legal to own a still provided you have obtained a permit from the state authorities, a still being used to distill alcoholic beverages without a distiller’s license, can be seized by the government and is considered to be illegal according to the ABC Act, California Code Section 25352.