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The federal regulatory body that oversees the alcohol industry has cleared the way for U.S. distilleries to begin producing hand sanitizer.
In guidance issued today, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), a division of the U.S. Department of the Treasury, said it would waive provisions of the internal revenue law and requirements for prior authorization, thereby allowing distilleries to produce ethanol-based hand sanitizers during the national emergency over the coronavirus.
The waiver applies through June 30 for all licensed distilleries and exempts them from having to secure additional permits and bonds, according to the TTB.
Hand sanitizers produced with undenatured spirits — meaning, spirits that lack additives to make them bad-tasting or foul-smelling — are still subject to federal excise taxes.
The measures come as sanitizer has been in short supply at many local stores in the wake of a buying spree as customers stock up on various supplies and essentials.
Some of Michigan’s licensed distilleries had already started producing hand sanitizers prior to the ruling.
Comstock Park-based Bier Distillery offered customers ordering take-out food a free spray bottle of hand sanitizer with each order, according to a social media post. Michigan Radio reported yesterday that Ann Arbor Distilling Co. was using a neutral spirit to make small bottles of sanitizer.
As well, Birmingham-based Griffin Claw Brewing Co. said today that it had repurposed its distilling operation to produce sanitizer to hand out to the community with each carry-out order.
“We just saw the impact of COVID-19 and everyone running out of sanitizer. We operate a distillery, so we got creative and were able to make our own,” Griffin Claw Marketing Director Christopher Lasher said in a statement. “It started as a way to sanitize our own taproom and brewery without stressing the public supply. We also offered bottles for all of our guests to use and it really caught on.”
The company also said it wants to find a way to donate the sanitizer to emergency services providers in the state.