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How do I Legally Distill at Home in South Africa? - Part 3: Record Keeping
PLEASE NOTE: This is the third Article of Three, dealing with the Process of Legal Home Distilling. Please read all three Articles for a full idea on how it works.
Probably the most common question we get from clients visiting our store: Is it Legal to Distill at Home?
This is followed closely by the second most common question: How do I Register to Distill at Home?
There is a lot of information on this topic doing the rounds from different sources, so this article will attempt to clear away all the false and incorrect information out there, and give you the correct process to be a Legal Home Distiller.
DISCLAIMER: This article is based, not only on the relevant SARS Legislation (to be found in the SARS Rules) but is also the result of several meetings we have had with SARS Officials and the SARS EXCO - both as Distillique and SACDI. All information here is correct and verified as per these discussions and several submissions, HOWEVER, SARS does change their interpretation of these Rules and Regulations from time to time, and due to breakdowns in communication between higher levels and lower level SARS Offices, it does sometimes happen that officials on the ground does not have the same clarity or information. We are doing our best to rectify this situation, but for now, please be aware that the process will not always work the way it is supposed to work.
I've bought a Legal Still and Registered with SARS - now what?
In the past, all you needed to do was buy a Legal and Serialized Still, register the still and yourself, and you could go forth and distill.
As of January 2019 however, there is a third step to being a Legal Home Distiller, and that is Record Keeping.
What Records must I keep?
Incorporated into the SARS Rules as of January 2019 is the following section:
116.02 A manufacturer of excisable goods solely for own use, who is registered as contemplated in item (i) of paragraph (a) of rule 116.01, must –
(a) keep detailed records in respect of the –
(i) description of any goods manufactured and stored;
(ii) description of any manufacturing and storage processes;
(iii) capacity of any manufacturing plant and equipment;
(iv) capacity of any storage facility and equipment;
(v) monthly register of any goods manufactured that reflects the –
(aa) opening stock at the start of the month;
(bb) quantities manufactured and stored;
(cc) quantities used and purpose of use;
(dd) quantities removed and purpose of removal;
(ee) quantities lost or destroyed and the reason; and
(ff) closing stock at the end of the month; and
(b) keep available the records contemplated in paragraph (a) for a period of at least five years after the date of manufacture for inspection on demand by an officer.
Do I really need to record all of this?
Not only is it the law, but if you intend to go Commercial, it is good practice, as these records are pretty much the same ones you will be expected to keep as a Commercial Distiller.
But even if you are a Home Distiller or Hobby Distiller - especially if you were trained by us here at Distillique - you would know the importance of proper Record Keeping, both as a Product Development Tool, and as a Production Tool, to ensure you are aware of your variables, measure them, control them, and thereby continuously and consistently produce - not only good products, but consistent products.
How do I keep these Records?
In typical Governmental fashion, we are instructed to keep records - but no format is given for the records, so technically, you can keep it any way you want to, and you will be legally compliant.
Distillique has however gone a step further, by not just providing you with a Record Book compliant with SARS regulations, but incorporating into it, everything you would need to do for Fermentation, Distillation and Spirit Enhancement Records.
Each Book contains enough Records for a year (assuming 1 distillation and fermentation per week - 52 records in total) along with Stock Sheets, Process Sheets, Cumulative and Individual Records, Fermentation Monitoring Sheets, Distillation Records for Cuts, Temperatures, Volumes, etc., Botanical Records for Ginning, Maturation Records, Enhancement Records, Equipment Sheets, Process and Product Descriptions, etc. etc.
The product was submitted to SARS for official approval, and although they could not give us official approval without getting lawyers involved and drawing the process out for months or years, they could not and did not find any fault in the Record Book, or ask / suggest any alterations.
We therefore take this as a non-official approval that the Record Book is compliant with the SARS Regulation regarding Article 116.
You are however under no legal obligation to use the Distillique Home Distillers' Record Book - as long as you keep the necessary records in some way, shape or form.