You are free to brew as much beer as you want in the UK as long as it is for personal use.

For distilled spirits, where one evaporates and captures the alcohol, you need a license. I'm just wondering if you require the same license if you cold distill instead of distilling with a kettle?

When cold distilling, you take your apple wine (or beer) and freeze it. The water freezes but the alcohol does not.

If you then strain the liquid you have a nice apple liqueur.

So does the cold distilling influence the license requirement or is it the same regardless of the distilling method?

  • 3
    "The water steams out of the kettle while the alcohol remains." I believe you have that exactly backwards, that is the alcohol boils off and must be caught and condensed, often in a condensing coil. Also one may start with wine rather than beer. Not that it matters for the issue of a license, but we should strive for accuracy here. Feb 28, 2022 at 7:19
  • 1
    @DavidSiegel - Agreed, and I'd say relevant - if not in a legal sense. Ethanol boils at 78C / 173F - significantly lower than water. Feb 28, 2022 at 11:30
  • Ok I have made an edit in an attempt to improve the question.
    – Neil Meyer
    Feb 28, 2022 at 12:26
  • There are also at least another way of cold distillation: pressure distillation (as in, reducing the boiling point of the spirits by pulling out the air above and condensing that).
    – Trish
    Feb 28, 2022 at 14:36

1 Answer 1



A distillers licence is required if you make spirits with an ABV greater than 1.2% by any method.

  • I see on the uk.gov website they only seem to mention industrial setups. Would you be able to get a license for just a small home setup?
    – Neil Meyer
    Feb 28, 2022 at 12:28
  • @NeilMeyer Usually, yes, you can acquire licenses even for tiny setups. Ask the licensing office.
    – Trish
    Feb 28, 2022 at 14:27
  • Beer is usually way above 1.2% ABV. Wines go like 10 times that. At what point it requires license?
    – fraxinus
    Feb 28, 2022 at 18:34
  • @fraxinus when it’s a spirit - something that goes beyond mere fermentation
    – Dale M
    Feb 28, 2022 at 21:09

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