Legalizing Hobby Distilling in the US

Discussion and plans for legalizing our hobby.

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goinbroke2
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Re: Legalizing Hobby Distilling in the US

Post by goinbroke2 » Sun Mar 23, 2014 8:26 am

I like the poster but think you should say what law your trying to change. "help us repeal law 123.45" or whatever.

As far as the still, it's quite fancy looking but my first impression is "this is a modern still" and I think a picture of an old keg potstill would reinforce the "snuffy smith" image. This appears more of a "in todays world, this is the modern still".
In other words, most wouldn't recognise it as a still and would think "this is a respectable hobby like beer/wine making" not snuffy out back with a car rad hooked to a pot with some copper pipe.

The meter in the background...meh, I like it but it is a bit cluttered.

I love the idea of dropping it off at a local home brew shop for people to "take one". My first thought was, what if everybody on here sends an e-mail with their local shops in it with phone numbers etc (to help the research) and then prints off the final draft and drops off a pile at their local hb shop? If Canada was involved or would help I'd print these and take them in here. For now I'll just wait until the fight comes here to join I guess.


as an after thought...I wonder if a mention of NZ and the zero harm/destruction since legalization there would help or be too much on the poster. (kiss)
Numerous 57L kegs, some propane, one 220v electric with stilldragon controller. Keggle for all-Grain, two pot still tops for whisky, a 3" reflux with deflag for vodka. Coming up, a 4" perf plate column. Life is short, make whisky and drag race!

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Re: Legalizing Hobby Distilling in the US

Post by bellybuster » Sun Mar 23, 2014 9:29 am

for the flier.
If it were me, I'd get rid of the entire "Have you ever wondered......" line. As soon as I read that I think someones trying to sell me something and I stop reading.
I would also ax the whole backwoods hillbilly thing as it may offend some.

"distilling almost entirely for enjoyment" what's the rest for? People will pick up on the little things

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Re: Legalizing Hobby Distilling in the US

Post by tcowdrey » Sun Mar 23, 2014 11:56 am

Woodshed,
You ever been to Central Garage at the corner of Rt. 360 and Rt. 30? As to how I got my garage to be a bonded warehouse. I applied for a DSPBI permit. Distilled Spirit Plant Beverage Industrial. All you have to do is go to the TTB Online Permit website and look for the permit you would like to apply for and then fill out all the required stuff. It is fairly time consuming. There is a chicken or egg part about the bonded warehouse. They will not start to process your application until you mail them a certified bond and of course you don't need the bond unless you get a permit. The minimum bond is a what they call a Unit Bond. It covers Distiller ($5000), Processor ($5000), Warehousemen ($5000) and Withdrawal ($1000) for a total of $16,000. I went to my local State Farm agent and got it - cost me $192.00.

On another issue - we decided early on the we wanted nothing to do the "moonshiner" selling untaxed spirits (if you can call it that) out the back of his pickup. In our book they are criminals.
In the same discussion we agreed that the registering of stills was bureaucracy on top of bureaucracy and 1) nobody wants that and 2) if the beer and wine guys don't have to have a permit why the hell should we?

Also, I have a personal email address that I use for business (not distilling business yet) and personal stuff. Like most folks when I started out talking on forums I used an alias - mine was allibugger@yahoo.com. Then when I finally got tired of hiding I said screw it and started using tomcowdrey@yahoo.com. I do what to thank John, Rick and Randy for all the kind words. When I get my DSPBI permit I will post the SOB on this forum.

Tom

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Re: Legalizing Hobby Distilling in the US

Post by woodshed » Sun Mar 23, 2014 12:07 pm

As a legal distiller I am aware of the process. Not familiar with the garage you mention. Just curious. I never noticed the chicken/egg thing you mention. Still unclear about this but it is what it is. Your answer really does not answer anything.

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Re: Legalizing Hobby Distilling in the US

Post by blind drunk » Sun Mar 23, 2014 1:12 pm

are you using the contact list for Brewhaus Canada
We are not affiliated with Brewhaus Canada, so we do not have access to any of their information. There has been no link between the two companies for 12 years.

Ok, but are you using their email list?

Also, it would be great if you included an unsubscribe option to your unsolicited emails. It would go a long way in creating trust, IMO.
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Re: Legalizing Hobby Distilling in the US

Post by tcowdrey » Sun Mar 23, 2014 1:41 pm

Woodshed,
My apologies, I thought you said you were from VA. I see you are actually in CO. All I was trying to say was which came first, the bond or the distillery permit. When dealing with the TTB, you must get the bond for your warehouse before you can get the distillery permit. That is what I have done.

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Re: Legalizing Hobby Distilling in the US

Post by woodshed » Sun Mar 23, 2014 1:48 pm

My understanding is the building cannot be used for any other purpose other than storage or distilling. That's what the regs say and what I was told by my TTB rep when I went through the steps. Bonded warehouse must be a separate room locked according to regs. Cannot even be in the same room as the still.

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Re: Legalizing Hobby Distilling in the US

Post by tcowdrey » Sun Mar 23, 2014 8:41 pm

Don't know for sure yet. The lady I am dealing with at the TTB is new to the Spirits section, however she is very nice and easy to deal with. Her job is to make sure all the regs are in place. I have been very honest and up front about my small hobby distilling operation. I have drawn diagrams for them to see. If it is not sufficient, I will do my best to comply. The only thing so far has been the start date on my bond which may have to be changed and corrected to correspond to their start date. This is why I said which came first? the bond or the warehouse?. I do have to say that the TTB have been the nicest group of people I have ever had to deal with in a while - very cooperative and pleasant. My still is definitely in the same room as the bonding area and so far that has not been questioned. She is supposed to get to my application week after this. We will see what she comes up with then. Wish me luck please. Tom

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Re: Legalizing Hobby Distilling in the US

Post by zacwest52285 » Sun Mar 23, 2014 9:16 pm

Tom:
When you began the process, did you just open the lines of communication with the TTB? What will your total investment be in becoming legal? I would love to be legal, but have no desire to produce spirits for profit, but if the investment is too great I will just stay under wraps.

I agree that we should be viewed just as home brewers and wine makers. I really hope that we can get there.
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Re: Legalizing Hobby Distilling in the US

Post by tcowdrey » Mon Mar 24, 2014 4:38 am

Vacwest52285,
They make it really easy to begin the process and like you I plan to sell nothing. Go to https://www.ttbonline.gov/permitsonline" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" rel="nofollow and register as an applicant. You want the Distilled Sprits Plant permit. There are a number of hoops to jump through like the Owner Officer Information (OOI), getting a bond as mentioned above and filling out the application. They want to know how you are financing your venture - I explained that I paid cash for a lot of my gear and put some of it on a credit card and had no financing to deal with and they still wanted my last 3 months bank statements. There is no cost for the permit itself. The bond is your only expense and all I did was call me home insurance company. There are numerous spirit bond companies online. Expect it to take 3 months or so.

The next step which I have not taken is your state permit. Depending on where you live that can be really cheap or really expensive. I don't know if the TTB reports federal permits to the states or not, but when I find out I will post it. A few months ago I did a quick (3 or 4 days) spreadsheet on the cost of state permits. I tried to attach it but the forum does not allow xls files. I can send it to you at another email address. The one thing I noticed is that states are now starting to realize the permit cost of a full blown "Jack Daniel" size distillery is out of reach for the new guy just starting a business so they are offering Craft Distiller type licenses that are much cheaper. Of course there are generally stipulations such as number of gallons per year associated with these permits but for the little distillery it is fine. In West Virginia, 51% of the agricultural products used have to be bought in the state of WV to get the Craft license. This is something the HDA can push for down the road. Please join or fight.

If I can help, send me a note at tomcowdrey@yahoo.com.
Tom

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Re: Legalizing Hobby Distilling in the US

Post by tcowdrey » Mon Mar 24, 2014 4:40 am

Vacwest52285,
Spelling correction in the last sentence. Please join "our" fight. t

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Re: Legalizing Hobby Distilling in the US

Post by bellybuster » Mon Mar 24, 2014 5:08 am

I'm a little confused. You are applying for permits for what reason? And for what end result.
I just don't see what getting proper permits will do for you. Do you plan on paying the tax on every ounce you produce.
Isn't this a step backwards instead of forwards? Someone's gonna get their peepee slapped when they find out you are not in fact a craft distiller wanting to start a business. That shit rolls down hill.
My apologies if I misunderstand.

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Re: Legalizing Hobby Distilling in the US

Post by tcowdrey » Mon Mar 24, 2014 6:02 am

Bellbuster,
Do you have a drivers license? If you do, does the state require you to drive a car/truck? Just because I get a permit and a business does not mean I have to distill a drop, however I do think it would be prudent to report an occasional gallon here and there and pay tax on it. I have no intention of selling it and I don't drink that much so I would not need to make very much. Spirits are reported by the gallon and we all know the Angel gets her share. I told them on my application that I was a hobby distiller and would not be selling any of my product. Will they believe me? Maybe and maybe not. What I am doing is not for everyone. If you live in a fancy subdivision in Baltimore, the zoning laws will most likely prohibit business use in your home or garage. There are many folks on this forum who distrust the government passionately, I am not one of them. The feds have my name, phone number, address, social security number, email address and god knows what else. The fact is I am not doing anything illegal, so I really don't care.

I don't see this a step backwards at all. I see it as a way practice my hobby without fear of federal interruptions. I see it as a way to come on a forum like this and use my real name and not hide my identity. When we get this legalized, I will probably drop the permit like a hot rock. Thanks for asking
Tom

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Re: Legalizing Hobby Distilling in the US

Post by S-Cackalacky » Mon Mar 24, 2014 8:16 am

Tom, what you're doing with the permits sounds fine, but for the average home distiller, it's not an option. I looked into a fuel permit some time ago and had to drop it when I realized I didn't have the facilities to do it. The main stumbling block was the requirement of a separate building at least 100 feet from your residence. I have a shed that would be suitable with some upgrades, but doesn't meet the distance requirements. I assume that those requirements would be similar for a craft permit.

And, this leads to another concern. Unlike beer and wine, distillation involves the production of flamable alcohol vapors. It would be a shame if home distilling were legalized, but were made impractical for the average person because of safety caveats. I run an electric heated pot still in my basement and feel more comfortable running it than I do with the propane I use to heat my house (re, the recent natural gas explosion in NYC). The general public has this unfounded perception of exploding stills (re, the recent forced explosion of a still house on the Mythbusters TV show). The reality being, as demonstrated in NZ, that this rarely, if ever, happens. Just saying that it would be a shame to get it legalized, but then have it stimyed by over regulation.
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Re: Legalizing Hobby Distilling in the US

Post by bellybuster » Mon Mar 24, 2014 10:08 am

tcowdrey wrote: I don't see this a step backwards at all. I see it as a way practice my hobby without fear of federal interruptions. I see it as a way to come on a forum like this and use my real name and not hide my identity. When we get this legalized, I will probably drop the permit like a hot rock. Thanks for asking
Tom
I'm still confused where this could be helping and not hindering the cause. Taxes are levied on produced spirits, not sold spirits. As soon as you produce any at all you are now owing taxes. To simply drink your product without paying taxes is a quick step towards a jail term instead of just having your still confiscated.
As a hobby distiller, I see this as a backwards step. If you were to succeed in getting permits to distill as a hobbyist, which I highly doubt, the gov't now has precedence to legalize and tax all hobbyists. Not a good thing.
I am quite possibly misunderstanding the reasoning behind your applying for permits. I thought the drive for legalization was so that this would never have to happen, not that it could anyway at present.

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Re: Legalizing Hobby Distilling in the US

Post by Soggy Bottom Boy » Mon Mar 24, 2014 11:00 am

bellybuster wrote:....... Taxes are levied on produced spirits, not sold spirits. As soon as you produce any at all you are now owing taxes. To simply drink your product without paying taxes is a quick step towards a jail term instead of just having your still confiscated.
.....
I might be wrong, but, if I'm not mistaken, the measurement of proof gallons, and calculations for taxation only occurs when product is put into bonded storage, not on the amount of product as it comes out of the still.

...and I wonder, when they do show up, do they count the amount of alcohol in any un-distilled wash/mash that is on site?

Perhaps one of our licensed craft distiller members could clear this up, as to what actually happens, and when.
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Re: Legalizing Hobby Distilling in the US

Post by Jimbo » Mon Mar 24, 2014 11:07 am

Any legislation around legalizing home distilling as a hobby wont have anything to do with tax money. The government doesnt want tax money on what we make to drink ourselves. We can make 250 gallons of beer per year. They dont want a penny, or a license or to even know about it. Just like they dont tax you on the tomatoes you grow to make your BLT's with.

If however, you get a license today, to distill alcohol legally (for any reason) you bet your ass they want to know about every drop made, and will want their $15 per proof gallon tax, as they can only assume you became licensed so you could sell it. Report nothing, get an audit visit, where they find purchase orders for grains and hooch in your tanks and you are screwed.
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Re: Legalizing Hobby Distilling in the US

Post by bellybuster » Mon Mar 24, 2014 11:25 am

Quite possibly I may be mistaken or misinterpreting the regs.
My whole point tho is that attempting to get a commercial permit for hobby distillation with no intent on commercial production may not only be detrimental to the cause, it may be a disaster to the cause. Not to mention quite possibly illegal in itself.
How would you like to have to keep records of every bag of sugar/grain, every packet of yeast. Every box of cornflakes or what have you. Submit reports regarding output not to mention calibration of equipment. This is not what the hobby distiller wants.

Tom, once again I see your efforts as applaudable but wonder if this might be going in the complete wrong direction. Lets say you succeed in getting all permitted up to distill likker for your own enjoyment. Then you go to the gov't with the idea of allowing you to do the same thing but for free????? Minus all the taxes?? With no permit??? Thats like trying to get permission to drive without paying for a licence and getting tax free gas on top.

Feel completely free to ignore me, I like to look at all the little details. I would be willing to support your venture if I thought it was going in what I felt to be a direction that had merit. hence the questions. If I'm asking them there are others who are thinking them.

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Re: Legalizing Hobby Distilling in the US

Post by rad14701 » Mon Mar 24, 2014 11:45 am

tcowdrey wrote:I tried to attach it but the forum does not allow xls files.
xls and xlsx files can be attached in zip format, as can doc, docx, or any other file extension not allowable as a direct upload attachment...

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Re: Legalizing Hobby Distilling in the US

Post by tcowdrey » Mon Mar 24, 2014 1:15 pm

Gentlemen,
I am going to try to answer several questions on the same post.
Bellybuster:
I guess I am getting the permit because I can. I have never been busted and prefer to go away from here in the same situation. I really wanted to see what the process involved. Believe me, it is not for everyone and no one making a few gallons a year should ever have to go through what I am going through.
You are correct - I will have to pay tax on what I report to the TTB. I understand I will have to send them a report monthly. Will it be a pain in the butt, absolutely. Will it take very long, I doubt it. With a permit, I can make all the booze I want and as long as I pay tax on the reported production, I don't have to sell a drop. It ain't none of their bidness and they sure as hell can't make me sell it if I don't want to. It is my understanding that tax is paid on what is reported to be moved out of the bonded warehouse; in my case my garage. I'll know more when I get the reporting guidelines.
Please understand that my licensing application has nothing, nothing to do with HDA. They are completely separate.
The only way we will ever get the TTB off our backs is to change the laws they are trying, with very little success, to enforce. That is what our legalization effort is all about.
S-cackalacky:
When I got my fuel license there was nothing in the regs about the fuel plant being 100 feet from my house. They did require me to send them a drawing of my property that showed the size and distances of lot lines and where the structures are located. I did a free hand drawing - it showed my fuel plant (garage) about 20 feet from the back corner of my house and my storage area, a shed behind the garage, 10 feet behind the fuel plant. It flew threw the process like shit through a goose. When they needed a couple of docs I neglected to send, a lady called me on my cell phone and had me scan them to her. Got the permit the next week. Cost nothing and took about 100 days.
Jimbo:
Record keeping will be somewhat of a pain. I am going to use a new distillatrac software. This is another reason for legalization. Sorry if I sound like a broken record.
Thanks for asking. Please give our efforts to make life easier for all us some thought.

Tom

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Re: Legalizing Hobby Distilling in the US

Post by Soggy Bottom Boy » Mon Mar 24, 2014 2:04 pm

tcowdrey wrote:.... When I got my fuel license there was nothing in the regs about the fuel plant being 100 feet from my house. They did require me to send them a drawing of my property that showed the size and distances of lot lines and where the structures are located. I did a free hand drawing - it showed my fuel plant (garage) about 20 feet from the back corner of my house and my storage area, a shed behind the garage, 10 feet behind the fuel plant. It flew threw the process like shit through a goose. When they needed a couple of docs I neglected to send, a lady called me on my cell phone and had me scan them to her. Got the permit the next week.
Tom
Maybe not at the Federal level, but at the local level things may be a whole lot different. In my area, due to a recent bio-fuel plant fire that burned down some farmers barn they are now imposing new rules as to, who, where it can be produced, maximum volumes that can be stored (including where & how), etc., etc..
.....getting the Federal fuel permit isn't the end of the process of "being a legal" fuel plant. Local county, or city laws and regulations may even go so far as to prohibit it completely.
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Re: Legalizing Hobby Distilling in the US

Post by epicdoom » Mon Mar 24, 2014 2:05 pm

I will be joining the way I see it, if the Police want to see who is distilling its as simple as coming here or other forums related to the subject. Who knows could be one of us posting here now is Gov. If you think being on the other end of a computer terminal not using your real name means your 100% safe and secure your absolutely wrong. Unless you homebuilt your distiller you may already be on the radar scope. For all you know homebuilders the copper or stainless you purchased from the supply house with your credit card or personal check may be enough to put you on the radar, could be that law Enforcement has requested supply houses to give information for anyone making one time purchases of copper pipe and sheet in this size or that, Do you know? I sure don't. The whole point is if we all remain in the shadows its exactly the fuel that's been used/needed to keep it illegal the sneaky, underhanded, criminal nature of it all has helped Nothing. I think its completely stupid that we can make beer and wine but not distill what we make into spirits for our own personal consumption, it blows my mind how one is less bad then the other. It also troubles me that a still needs registration People don't only buy them for spirits some folks use them for distilled water and essential oils. I have a customer who distills only water for use in his industrial batteries why should he have to register it he's not using it for anything illegal.
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Re: Legalizing Hobby Distilling in the US

Post by bellybuster » Mon Mar 24, 2014 2:22 pm

tcowdrey wrote:Gentlemen,
Please understand that my licensing application has nothing, nothing to do with HDA. They are completely separate.
Tom
Then my advice to you is to leave them separate. from reading this thread one would be lead to believe your application process is part of the effort, that is the basis of my concern. My apologies if this was felt to be a hard time, that was not my intention. My entire life has been spent where "the devil lies in the details".

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Re: Legalizing Hobby Distilling in the US

Post by tcowdrey » Mon Mar 24, 2014 2:59 pm

Bellybuster,
No offense taken on my part. I know where you are coming from about the details. A problem with the written word is there is no way to know how people will interpret what you are trying to say. Thanks for your sharp eye.

Tom

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Re: Legalizing Hobby Distilling in the US

Post by zacwest52285 » Mon Mar 24, 2014 3:34 pm

My only desire to possibly head legal at this time is mounting concern of being caught. I have built everything myself, only purchased a tri-clamp. My wife and I both hold professional positions which would be compromised if I were to even be caught with an illegal spirit. When I started this hobby it was not of too much concern, but changes in positions have made it more of a concern. If I could become legal within reason of money and hoop jumping, I would like to be. Thanks tom, I appreciate everything you are doing on both sides of your effort.
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Re: Legalizing Hobby Distilling in the US

Post by Jimbo » Mon Mar 24, 2014 3:47 pm

I would like to applaud Tom for his efforts to become a legal homedistiller. But not for the reasons that are self evident. I would also like to encourage everyone and anyone with as much patience for bureaucrazy and spare cash to go through the same process Tom is.

Why?

Because the TTB is a small organization that is already multi-tasked and stretched thin. They do NOT have the bandwidth to dick with Joe Blow and his 10 gallons of homebrew. To scrub his paperwork for certification, to review Joe's monthly reports on how many ounces he may have ran.

Laws change for self serving reasons. If everyone inundated the TTB for registration and a legal permit, the laws would change pronto to get these (us) assholes off their desk so they can focus on the task at hand. Regulating and ensuring tax revenue from volume distillers.

So thank you Tom. Charge on. Drag as many with you as you can.
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Re: Legalizing Hobby Distilling in the US

Post by Soggy Bottom Boy » Mon Mar 24, 2014 4:24 pm

Jimbo wrote:.... Because the TTB is a small organization that is already multi-tasked and stretched thin. They do NOT have the bandwidth to dick with Joe Blow and his 10 gallons of homebrew. ....
Well, they for sure had the band-width to do so in Florida, based on a list of stills and boilers that Joe Blow bought from commercial still makers. Of that, we know for sure! ....just saying :?
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Re: Legalizing Hobby Distilling in the US

Post by Jimbo » Mon Mar 24, 2014 4:28 pm

True, but we still dont know the real agenda there. And the TTB were working with local LEO. Who initiated it? Why? To what end? Too many questions. Doesnt change the p[oint i was making that the TTB doesnt have the bandwidth to chunk through thousands of apps for legalization from home hobbyists.
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Re: Legalizing Hobby Distilling in the US

Post by goose eye » Mon Mar 24, 2014 5:37 pm

Jumbo you want to know there agenda ask them boys
That got jammed up in Florida.

As far as they keepin records of who buts sheets of copper.
You ever think how many sheets roofers buy everyday
for water tables step flashing etc........ And that just roofers.

Boys you got 2 kids and a mortgage keep the he'll out of
this.

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Re: Legalizing Hobby Distilling in the US

Post by RandyMarshCT » Mon Mar 24, 2014 6:07 pm

goose eye wrote:Boys you got 2 kids and a mortgage keep the he'll out of
this.
Goose Eye, I completely understand your position and I respect the hell out of your posts, but I have 1 kid... about to have one more this week (supposed to be friday), and a mortgage. I'm 100% in this. Literally, to the point of outing myself.
Life member, representative, and proud supporter of the Hobby Distiller's Association.

http://www.hobbydistillersassociation.org

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