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HMRC internal manual

Spirits Production Manual

HM Revenue & Customs
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Law, Policy and Application - Licensing Offences


2.9 Save as provided by or under this Act, any person who, otherwise than under and inaccordance with an excise licence under this Act so authorising him:

(a) manufactures spirits, whether by distillation of a fermented liquor or by any other process; or

(b) uses a still for distilling, rectifying or compounding spirits; or

(c) distils or has in his possession any low wines or feints; or

(d) not being a vinegar-maker, brews or makes or has in hispossession any wort or wash fit for distillation,

shall be liable on summary conviction to a penalty not exceeding 5 onthe standard scale – ALDA s25(1)

Without prejudice to any other requirement as to the production oflicences contained in the Customs and Excise Acts 1979, if any person who is the holder ofan excise licence to carry on any trade or to manufacture or sell any goods fails to produce his licence for examination within one month after being so requested by an officer his failure shall attract a penalty under section 9 of the Finance Act 1994 (civil penalties) – CEMA s101(4)

Policy and Application

It is an offence for any person who does not hold a distiller’s licence to;

  • manufacture spirits; or
  • use a still for distilling spirits; or
  • distil or be in possession of any low wines or feints; or
  • brew, make or have any wort or wash fit for distillation (unless licensed as a brewer or wine producer, registered as a cider maker or carrying on the trade of a vinegar – maker).

The above offences are likely to involve illicit distillation and all such cases should be investigated.

Before offence action can be taken, you need to be able to demonstrate that a formal request for production of the licence has been made.