Vice Squad
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Speeding Along the Demise of French Home Distilling

There is a rural tradition in France of orchard owners distilling high-alcohol fruit brandies, eaux de vie. But these home distillers are in serious decline, as the French government has been restricting the right to make tax-free distillations. Those whose production right -- it only amounts to 20 litres of 50 percent alcohol per rightholder -- was grandfathered in decades ago have not been allowed to bequeath that right, so many of the distillers are literal grandfathers. Nevertheless, French law is set to change on January 1, and the aged alcohol producers will either have to pay a 7.25 euro per bottle tax, or give up their traditional hobby. Seems a bit heavy-handed.

Here are some photos of the production technique for eau de vie, along with some commentary on the fear instilled by the French alcohol tax collection authorities.

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