The Collegian
Wednesday, May 18, 2022


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Distillery found in University Forest Apartments

Campus police found a student in a University Forest Apartment running an illegal distillery to make "moonshine," according to a police report.

Police entered a 1300-block apartment on Sept. 19 and found equipment for running the distillery that had been stolen from the Gottwald Science Center, assistant police chief Beth Simonds said. They also found illegally produced liquor. Police cited the student for theft and liquor law violations.

Moonshine refers to high-proof distilled spirits that were popular during Prohibition in the 1920s and 30s. The alcohol content of moonshine can vary but can be as strong as 125 proof, according to a Southern Living magazine article about the best legal moonshine.

Virginia law says that distillery operators must possess a license. It is legal to make small quantities of beer and wine for personal consumption, when the producers are of age, but not moonshine. It is illegal to possess distilleries or a distilling apparatus without a permit, according to Virginia code.

To create the distillery, the University of Richmond student stole glass containers and rubber tubing from Gottwald Science Center, police said.

Several campus police officers and unidentified investigators were seen carrying these items out of the apartment Thursday, Sept. 19, around 4:30 p.m.

Neighbors of the apartment said that members of the Richmond College dean's office had been visiting the 1300 apartment block that day, making their semiannual fire safety inspections. When the inspectors saw the distillery apparatus, they contacted campus police, and when residents arrived, they granted the police entrance.

There are no criminal charges, and the incident has been referred to the dean's office, Simonds said.

Editors note: Previous reporting that more than one student may have been involved was found to be incorrect and has been changed.

Contact staff writer at Kylie McKenna at

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