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Making Scotch Whiskey

Getting a permit in the USA

Click this link and choose form 5110.74 to download instructions and application for a Fuel Distillation Plant. It is a 5 page Adobe document, which you can print and submit per the instructions. Please pay special attention to the part where they are asking for a drawing showing which building on your property where the still will be located. This is because they do not want to license a still located in a backyard or garage of a house in a residential area. They show a simple drawing of a still located on a 1200 farm, but do not state what the minimum acreage would be for a farm based still. If you do not own a farm, the best way to get an ATF Fuel Distiller's Permit is to indicate that you will run the still in a building which is not attached to a house (like an attached garage).

How difficult/expensive is the US licensing process for making alcohol?

A. Getting a licence from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (BATF) is not difficult, and only takes about a month.
Click the blue link at the top of this page to see the 5 pages of forms and instructions for the "fuel distillers' permit". Be sure to check th box showing that you will produce less than 10,000 gallons per year, or you will have to post a bond.
Take a look at this new web site from the BATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms) for kids. It tells you how to get the permit.
I thought it pretty strange that the BATF would have a web page for kids, but it is even stranger that this site for kids is labeled, "Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives".  Check it out:
Application form 5110.74 and additional information are available from the: Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms,
National Revenue Center, Spirits Unit A,
550 Main Street, Room 8002,
Cincinnati, OH 45202-3263
1-800-398-2282 or (513) 684-7150

Click this link for the USA Internal Revenue Service information on getting the Alcohol Fuel Tax Credit.

Build your own still

Click HERE for the BATF law book (major excerpts from the 416 page document) to read the exact laws regarding getting an alcohol fuel permit. But don't bother with this unless you are also considering making drinking alcohol. The easy way to get your permit is instead, to simply click the blue link at the top of this page, print out the 5 page instructions and form for the fuel alcohol distillation plant. Be sure to check the box stating that you intend to make less than 10,000 gallons per year. Mail it to the address listed in the instructions.

You can make this still in one weekend
Using 3" copper pipe and other off the shelf plumbing fittings, you can make 5 gallons of 180 proof

 Alcohol Fuel Credit

If you sell or use alcohol as a fuel, you may be eligible for an income tax credit. The alcohol fuel credit consists of a straight alcohol credit, an alcohol mixture credit, and a small ethanol producer credit. Each of these credits is discussed later.

Small Ethanol Producer Tax Credit

The small ethanol producer tax credit is an incentive enacted by Congress in 1990 to promote greater participation in ethanol production – so that farmers and other small business interests could compete with larger, more wealthy investors to produce ethanol.

Under present law, small ethanol facilities are provided a production income tax credit of 10 cents per gallon on up to 15 million gallons of ethanol per year. Current law defines a “small ethanol producer” as one whose production does not exceed 15 million gallons annually and whose production capacity does not exceed 30 million gallons annually.

Alcohol eligible for the credit includes methanol and ethanol. This includes methanol produced from methane gas formed in waste disposal sites. But it does not include any of the following.

  • Alcohol produced from petroleum, natural gas, or coal (including peat).
  • Alcohol with a proof of less than 150.
  • Ethanol produced as a by-product from manufacturing ethylcellulose derived from ethane.

In figuring the proof of any alcohol, disregard any denaturants (additives that make the alcohol unfit for human consumption).

Straight alcohol credit. You can claim the credit for any alcohol not mixed with gasoline or a special fuel other than denaturants.

You are eligible for the credit for straight alcohol only if you met one of the following requirements during the tax year.

  • You used it as a fuel in your trade or business.
  • You sold it at retail and placed it in the fuel tank of the buyer's vehicle.

The buyer cannot claim the credit for the alcohol bought at retail, even if the buyer uses it as a fuel in a trade or business.

Mixing or failure to use as fuel. If the credit applied to alcohol you bought and you later mix the alcohol or do not use it as a fuel, you must pay a tax equal to the credit. Report this tax on Form 720.

Table 4-1. How To Figure the Straight Alcohol and Alcohol Mixture Credits

IF the alcohol is...

AND it is...

THEN the credit for each gallon is...

At least 190 proof

Alcohol (other than ethanol) Ethanol

$.60   $.53  

At least 150 proof but less than 190 proof

Alcohol (other than ethanol) Ethanol

$.45   $.3926

Alcohol Fuel news briefs This link is mostly about ethanol replacing MTBE as a fuel additive. It opens as a Word document.

If you would like to order the blueprints for building this high proof, high production alcohol fuel still, click the small credit card button, here. This provides a secure transaction via Paypal to pay $30.00 (US) for blueprints for building the Charles 803 still, mailed by post. Robert Warren has perfected this still and written 40 pages of clear and detailed instructions. You will also get step-by-step photos not included in this website.

ATF, Alcohol Fuels, and the Crude Oil Windfall Profit Tax Act of 1980

The U.S. Department of the Treasury,  22 years ago, published regulations establishing a new category of distilled spirits plants for producers of alcohol exclusively for fuel. The Energy Tax Act of 1980 instructed the Department of Treasury to encourage and promote alcohol fuel production.

In May 1979, the US Treasury, in conjunction with BATF, proposed legislation to Congress to facilitate alcohol fuel production. With minor changes Congress added this proposal to the Crude Oil Windfall Profit Tax Act of 1980 (Public Law 96-223). The Act granted the Secretary the authority to waive provisions of law relating to distilled spirits. The pertinent portions of the Act become effective July 1, 1980.

Key components of these regulations

BATF will substantially reduce the regulatory burden faced by alcohol fuel producers. The new regulations, effective July 1, establish a regulatory systems which divides alcohol fuel producers into three categories.

Produces and receives not more than 10,000 proof gallons of alcohol per year.

Produces and receives more than 10,000 but not more than 500,000 proof gallons of alcohol per year.

Produces and receives more than 500,000 proof gallons of alcohol per year.

The new regulations include the following major provisions.

Application procedures are reduced.
Small plants will file only a single simplified ATF form giving basic information about the operation. Medium and large plants must supplement their application with additional information. The documents required, however, are less than 25% of what is required for beverage alcohol plants. Interested persons may obtain an application form from only one ATF regional office at:


Technical Services

550 Main Street, Room 6525

Cincinattit, OH, 45202


Ask for ATF Form 5110.74. The AFT permit is limited by law to plants which produce alcohol exclusively for fuel use. The permittee must produce alcohol to be eligible for a permit. Alcohol produced under this new law may be used only as a fuel.

Applications will be promptly processed.
ATF will determine the eligibility of the applicant for the permit within 60 days of the receipt of the completed application by ATF.

Bonds are significantly reduced.
Small plants are not required to file a bond. Medium and large plants are required to give bonds (generally obtained from insurance companies for nominal annual premiums). ATF substantially reduced bond amounts by up to 80% from previous requirements for alcohol fuel production.

Denaturation requirements are liberalized.
In order to render alcohol unfit for beverage use, AFT's will have greater flexibility in comparison to requirements for denatured alcohol. ATF has reduced the amount of denaturant required and increased the number of acceptable denaturants.

Record and report requirements are reduced or eliminated.
Producers may record transactions on commercial records. ATF does not require any special forms for maintaining records and has reduced substantially the frequency of reporting.

Alcohol may be used as fuel on the premises of the AFP.
An AFP may use alcohol for fuel on the premises of the plant without rendering the alcohol unfit for beverage use.

The law previously hindered alcohol fuel production. Although existing requirements were well suited to regulating beverage and industrial alcohol, they inhibited the production of alcohol fuel. In order to facilitate alcohol fuel production, ATF provided all lawful administrative relief possible prior to passage of Public Law 96-223. For example, ATF reduced the bond requirement for experimental permit holders, and liberalized denaturant formulas. These efforts, however, were insufficient for a long term program of alcohol fuel development. P.L. 96-223 authorized the Secretary of the Treasury to waive those provisions inhibiting alcohol fuel development.

A typical 40 million gallon per year ethanol production facility using dry corn.



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