Importing booze for pleasure??

I’ve been trying to figure out if it’s legal to do so. Not for resale, just to drink. I’ve searched quite thoroughly around the web, ending up plowing through legalese on the web pages for customs, ATF, and other gov’t agencies. It seems to be legal, but THAT seems insane. I’m convinced I’m missing something obvious. I’m willing to follow whatever regulations exist. Get through whatever red tape necessary.

Specifically I’m trying to get something called Bacardi Black. It’s from Puerto Rico. Don’t know if that’s relevant, being a territory. It can be carried back in person (I’ve had friends come back with 16 bottles, just carrying em in big plastic bags).

ps (I’ve had people say Bacardi Anejo is the same thing. or Bacardi Select is the same thing. It isn’t. Not according to the Bacardi people in the Bacardi factory in P.R.)

I’d have a booze dealer order it for me.

Of course, I’d pass on Bacardi in favor of Don Q, so what do I know?

You can only bring back a couple of liters from Canada or Mexico last time I traveled there. Puerto Rico is probably different since like you say, it is a territory. Your local liquer store proably would be the best people to ask ar you could check out the ATF (Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms) website.

If they’re willing to do it for you, your local liquor store can special order almost anything for you, and it’s much less hassle than doing it yourself. Other than absinthe and that beer with the heroin in it, you can get pretty much anything imported here.


Your local liquor store (what state are you in, btw?) may or may not be able to get it for you, depending which state you live in. There are states (like Georgia) where it’s a felony to purchase liquor for retail, except from a licensed distributor, and other states (like Georgia again, aaargh), that have primary source laws - essentially, the producer designates one particular distributor for their product, and only that wholesaler can legally supply it. In such cases, it basically depends on whether the wholesaler decides to carry that product or not, and retailers are SOL if they don’t.

(and, btw, you can get absinthe, just not the good kind of absinthe :))

I’m in CA.


Absinthe: You cannot get the good kind, for 2 reasons.

  1. back in the 1800s or so (I think, I have a bad case of CRS disease) it was making people go crazy so it was banned (although ive heard it was banned more for political than health reasons). 2) ‘Real’ Absinthe contains the herb WormWood which is listed on the FDA’s list of banned food additives (or something like that). Sassafras root, which is what ‘real’ rootbeer gets its flavor from, is also on that list.

Couple of things, ‘real’ Absinthe probably didnt make people go crazy, it was the nasty chems they put into it to make it have its distinctive color and others to make it change to its creamy white color when chilled water is poored over suger into, etc. Also, bad brewing techniques were to blame because that added high levels of lead to it. Funny thing is, I heard that wormwood was added to that FDA list because of Absinthe, IE they thought that was the ingrediant that made people go crazy.

Doesnt matter anyway, you can EASILY make it yourself.

Heres a link to a recipe:

And another:
You can buy wormwood from most herb and health food stores and except with extreemly exccessive and longterm use, will not make you go crazy. You can also get it from:

Well they used to have it at least.
I personnaly havent tried these recipes out, but one of that sites recipes for English Short Ale and another for Peach Melomel were absolutly wonderful.

Speaking of which, its much cheaper and tastier to make alchohol yourself. Check out this link:


I don’t doubt that the people at the factory told you Bacardi Black is different from Bacardi Select, but I do doubt that they knew what they were talking about.


Bacardi Black, Bacardi Select
distilled, blended and bottled by Bacardi
produced in Puerto Rico

Aged:Blend of rums up to 4 years old
% Alc on Label: 40
Body Profile:Simple, no dominant features
Quality:General Market
Color Added:heavy caramel coloring added for color
Source Ingredient :Molasses

Rum Notes: Reintroduced as Bacardi Select. The young age of the rum comes through in spite of the caramel coloring. This is, however, a good light flavor rum to mix in cocktails for extra color.

Commonly Consumed: Mixed in cocktails

Er, Blah, are you sure it’s wise to post a way to brew and illegal drink, no matter what the health consequences may or may not be?

Hmm, on second though, never mind. I had neglected to read your link :o. Sorry.

Dirty1: They are different. I have both. They are similar, but not the same. In P.R. and in other places around the world (Europe etc…) they sell both Select and Black. Side by side on the shelf. Different bottle, different price. The black is what I’m looking for now, but I’ve wondered about importing booze in the past, for other stuff, and that was the real focus of the question. The legality of doing it not for retail.


It is legal to make any type of alchohol (including MoonShine…I think) as long as you are 21 or over, you do not sell it ie its for your own personal use, and you are not allowed to make more than a certain amount a year (200 gallons…think)

If you are talking about Absinthe being illegal, it is only illegal to sell it not make/drink it…

And yes I know you already cleared this up, Im posting for the benefit of the others (especially moderators and admins)

If it is against SD policy for me to post that Im sorry…

Blah- Oddly enough, when Absinthe is caught being mailed into the country (happens all the time, usually it isn’t caught) they just confiscate it, and send a letter to the intended recipient that the package was “Not suitable for entry into the US”.

Also, most of the “Homebrewed” Absinthes that folks try to make apparently end up tasting like fermented ass. It takes quite a bit of work to get Absinthe to come up right.

And, for the record, apparently you can buy Hills, one of the lower order brands of Absinthe, in Canada. Be prepared to not like it, however, unless you 1- like strong alcohol and 2- like licorice.

I have ordered Absinthe from overseas suppliers on 3 or 4 different occasions. I’ve never had an order stopped and it is the “real stuff”.

And Tristan is right, the Absinthe that you make yourself is horrific. There isn’t enough sugar in the world to get rid of the bitterness.

BlahMan, however, is wrong when he says

The effect is known as ‘louche’ and it is not an Absinthe only feature. The affect is also seen when water is added to Anise liquors.

For the record, it’s not legal to distill your own spirits. The government will still go after moonshiners if they prove themselves enough of a nuisance. The main issue here is health risks, I believe; it’s much safer to allow people to make their own beer and wine than it is to let them run a still.

As well, homebrewing and home winemaking are a relatively recent phenomenon, at least legally. I believe the rights were extended sometime in the 1970s.

Adam- If you don’t mind, I’d like to swap e-mails with you about your Absinthe experience. Drop me a line at I tried to get your e-mail, but it appears to be blocked.

As for homebrewing… well, once I get space, I plan to brew up some decent cider… Mmmmmmm

There was bill making it’s way thorough the House last year (HR 3249) that would have allowed home distilling. I think it was referred to the House Ways and Means Committee in November, so I’m not sure if that means it’s been killed, or things just take a long time to get done in Congress. Probably both. :slight_smile:

Go here: and type in HR3249.


Yah I figured distilling was illegal.

I know that the ‘louche’ feature is not limited to Absinthe, but some companies ‘did’ add chems to make the absinthe cloud like that better (based on my sources, at least, which I really whish I could cite). What Im trying to say is that most of the absinthe companies tried as many ‘shortcuts’ as they could, to make a product that was cheaper for them to produce, and these shortcuts are what made Absinthe seem unhealthy…

BUT, I still think it was the ‘bohemian’ (artistic/poetic, etc) political element that most contributed to its banishment…