The formation and distribution of ethyl carbamate (urethane) during pot still distillation was investigated. Formation only occurred if the distillation was carried out in the presence of copper. Removal or chelation of dissolved or suspended copper prevented ethyl carbamate formation. When copper was present, during and subsequent to distillation, formation of ethyl carbamate was time-dependent. The degree of formation was maximised between pH 4 and 6. During the second or low wines distillation only 1–2 per cent of the total available ethyl carbamate was collected with the potable spirit fraction. The remainder was distributed between the feints (15 per cent) and the spent lees (84 per cent).