Home » Moonshine News » Busting Moonshine: Virginia Hates Competition

Busting Moonshine: Virginia Hates Competition

Like This!


Here’s a recent article from the Roanoke Times about the increase in moonshine busts in Southwest Virginia. The Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (VABC) says that the manufacture of illegal liquor is on the rise again. In the fiscal year that ended June 2010, agents seized 22 stills in Southwest Virginia. In the last month alone they seized 5 stills – 2 in Franklin County and 3 in Henry. For those unfamiliar with the area, Franklin County, Virginia is the moonshine capital of the world.

A few thoughts after reading the article…

The Only Game in Town - The Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control

The Only Game in Town - The Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control

Did you know there’s only one liquor store in Virginia? The Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control retails all of the liquor in this state. If you want to buy whiskey, you have to go to one of their state run liquor stores, the VABC store. There are no other liquor stores in the state of Virginia and this came as a complete shock to me when I moved here.

Virginia is what is known as a control state. Control states are those states that have a monopoly on the sale of liquor. After the repeal of Prohibition, some states decided to retain control of the sale of liquor. While all states regulate alcohol sales to some degree, Virginia is one of only a handful of states that still operate their own liquor stores.

Essentially, Virginia has a state run monopoly on the sale of liquor. The state currently makes $324 million in revenue per year from operating the VABC stores.

Of course they’d be mad if someone was competing with them. They even have an armed security force to protect their monopoly.

Virginia is one of only a few states that still have an agency that actively pursues moonshiners. (Another state is North Carolina, also a control state.) Throughout the history of this country, moonshining has primarily been enforced by federal agents. To the feds it’s a tax revenue issue, hence the term “revenuer” to describe the officers that busted moonshine operations. In most states, local law enforcement would work with the feds, but for the most part it was the feds enforcing the laws and the local boys helping out. Not in Virginia, though. They have the VABC.

One thing the article mentions is that three copper moonshine stills were seized in Henry County from a Collinsville man that had them for sale on eBay. The stills were small personal consumption copper moonshine stills, with the capacity to run about 10 gallons of mash. The output of a 10 gallon still is much less than 10 gallons. The percentage of alcohol in a typical batch of corn mash is about 5%, so 10 gallons of mash will yield less than half a gallon of pure spirits.

In the state of Virginia, it’s illegal to even own a distilling device. That’s why the state seized the stills in the Collinsville case. The Collinsville man wasn’t actively distilling alcohol; he simply possessed a distilling device.

What the article doesn’t mention is that in most states, it’s NOT illegal to own a distilling device. Even federal law allows you to own a distilling device, as long as you don’t use it to distill alcohol. There are several ads on this site where you can purchase a copper moonshine still online and have it shipped through the mail. (You might not want to ship it to Virginia.)

The last two stills seized in Virginia, prior to the five stills mentioned in the Roanoke Times article, were also small hobby sized stills. The two men arrested were selling stills on Craigslist: a “crime” that isn’t a crime in most other states.

Like most monopolists, Virginia will not tolerate competition. Monopolists hate competition and will do anything to crush it. Virginia is proving it by going after the  large, commercial moonshine operator as well as the small hobbyist that distills for personal consumption.

Moonshine News

12 Comments to “Busting Moonshine: Virginia Hates Competition”

  1. I was looking at one of the stories that you linked to where the two guys were busted. It’s crazy that in Virginia, possession of untaxed alcohol carries the same penalty as possession of marijuana. It’s also crazy that making moonshine is a felony in Virginia.

  2. I just moved to Virginia from Florida and found out about these government run liquor stores. I was like, “so, everything is more expensive than I was used to paying in Florida, and the selection sucks. And it’s the same selection if I go down the street to the other VABC? Awesome.”

  3. Thanks for posting. Yeah it does seem a little odd that Virginia is so aggressive in catching moonshiners.

  4. Why is government involved in the retail liquor business? Oh yeah, that’s right – money.

  5. I have lived in Va all my life but was born in WVa! I hate the monoply of alcohol here and will being going back to my birthplace to make my own whiskey!

  6. I just wanted a new hobby and happen to like bourbon but I guess I will have to keep going to the ABC Store. Sucks I can’t try and make my own!

  7. hi!,I love your writing very much! share we communicate more
    approximately your article on AOL? I need a specialist on this house to solve my problem.
    May be that is you! Having a look forward to see you.

  8. just for everyones awareness, this article is incorrect. According to national law, Virginia recognises the production of home made wine and beer. There is no proof limits. If you read the Code I have copied into this reply you will see. Virginia is holding the first national Moonshine Festival on November 22 2014 in Richmond. So evidently its not illegal. You just cant make more that 100 gallons per year and you cant transport more than 50 liters at a time. Etc. Just read it.

    Va. Code §4.1-200
    The licensure requirements of this chapter shall not apply to:
    6. Any person who manufactures at his residence or at a gourmet brewing shop for domestic consumption at his residence, but not to be sold, dispensed or given away, except as hereinafter provided, wine or beer or both, in an amount not to exceed the limits permitted by federal law.

    Any person who manufactures wine or beer in accordance with this subdivision may remove from his residence an amount not to exceed 50 liters of such wine or 15 gallons of such beer on any one occasion for (i) personal or family use, provided such use does not violate the provisions of this title or Board regulations; (ii) giving to any person to whom wine or beer may be lawfully sold an amount not to exceed (a) one liter of wine per person per year or (b) 72 ounces of beer per person per year, provided such gift is for noncommercial purposes; or (iii) giving to any person to whom beer may lawfully be sold a sample of such wine or beer, not to exceed (a) one ounce of wine by volume or (b) two ounces of beer by volume for on-premises consumption at events organized for judging or exhibiting such wine or beer, including events held on the premises of a retail licensee. Nothing in this paragraph shall be construed to authorize the sale of such wine or beer.

    The provision of this subdivision shall not apply to any person who resides on property on which a winery, farm winery, or brewery is located.

  9. But aren’t wine and beer fermented and cooked but not distilled? And classified differently then hard alcohol? Not sure if I’m missing something, I’m confused as to why the article is wrong?

  10. Wine and beer are completely different than moonshine. The article is correct, VirginiaBorn is confused.

  11. I am really enjoying the theme/design of your blog. Do you ever run into any web browser compatibility problems? A few of my blog visitors have complained about my site not working correctly in Explorer but looks great in Chrome. Do you have any solutions to help fix this problem?|

  12. If you wish for to increase your experience only keep visiting this web site and be updated with the hottest information posted here.

Leave a Reply