FRANKFORT, Ky. — The Kentucky Distillers’ Association today announced that member distilleries have produced and donated nearly 125,000 gallons of desperately needed hand sanitizer across the Commonwealth to frontline workers, hospitals and healthcare facilities.
In the last few weeks, KDA distillers – from the largest to the smallest – retooled their facilities, sourced necessary supplies, battled regulatory and tax hurdles, and began donating sanitizer by priority requests made through the KDA’s portal at www.kyhandsanitizer.com.
Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear said, “These companies worked quickly and tirelessly to source the materials and manufacture this essential product for Kentuckians fighting on the front lines of this pandemic.
“I am grateful and proud to have the KDA and its members on Team Kentucky.”
To put the amount into perspective, KDA President Eric Gregory said 125,000 gallons of hand sanitizer would equal more than 630,000 “fifths” of whiskey, or 750ml bottles as they are labeled today.
And more is on the way, Gregory said.
“Our distillers have a rich history of stepping up in times of need to support our country and our Commonwealth, most notably by producing industrial alcohol to safeguard our nation in times of war,” he said. “This is a different kind of war with people’s lives and livelihoods at stake.
“Without being asked, KDA members immediately shifted from producing the world’s best whiskey to hard-to-find hand sanitizer for our hospitals, EMS and first responders, nursing homes, hospice, police, foster care centers and other priority needs.
“That’s what a signature industry does — and why our distilleries are going to keep producing sanitizer to ensure that the needs of Kentucky and our country are met during this unprecedented and uncertain time.”
KDA member distillers producing and donating sanitizer include:
- Wilderness Trail, Danville
- Heaven Hill Distilleries, Inc., Bardstown and Louisville
- Wild Turkey, Lawrenceburg
- Alltech, Lexington and Pikeville
- Brown-Forman, Louisville and Versailles
- Beam Suntory, Clermont and Loretto
- Neeley Family Distillery, Sparta
- Kentucky Artisan Distillery, Crestwood
- Michter’s, Louisville
- Louisville Distilling Co., Louisville
- MB Roland Distillery, Pembroke
- Boundary Oak Distillery, Elizabethtown
- New Riff Distillery, Newport
- Rabbit Hole Distillery, Louisville
- Hartfield & Co., Paris
- Jeptha Creed Distillery, Shelbyville
- Casey Jones Distillery, Hopkinsville
- Old Pogue Distillery, Maysville
- James E. Pepper Distillery, Lexington
- O.Z. Tyler Distillery, Owensboro
- Dueling Grounds Distillery, Franklin
- Bluegrass Distillers, Lexington
- AMBRABev, Danville
- B. Bird Distillery, Augusta
- Barrel House Distillery, Lexington
- Second Sight Spirits, Ludlow
- Preservation Distillery, Bardstown
Gregory said distillers are able to produce sanitizer because the main ingredient is alcohol, and that KDA members are following Food and Drug Administration guidelines for production and labeling that are consistent with the World Health Organization sanitizer formulation.
Some distillers even began production knowing that the product could face expensive federal excise taxes, Gregory said.
Congress eventually provided temporary relief for the tax burden as part of its Coronavirus Relief Package, but the FDA has not provided flexibility in its guidance to allow distillers to recognize this tax relief while also making hand sanitizer in an efficient and effective manner
The KDA continues to work alongside the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, the American Craft Spirits Association and other industry partners to encourage action by the FDA so distillers can make more hand sanitizer and be eligible for tax relief.
KDA Board Chairwoman Jessica Pendergrass with Heaven Hill Brands commended KDA members for coming together across brand lines to support those on the frontlines battling this unprecedented global pandemic.
“Some of our members were producing hand sanitizer within a few days of being made aware of the need,” Pendergrass said. “Many Craft members were able to meet the immediate needs of their local communities while larger producers ramped up to fulfill state and regional requests.
“Producing over 125,000 gallons in a few weeks’ time took a tremendous, collaborative effort from all of our membership.”
Founded in 1880, the KDA is a non-profit trade group that represents 40 of the state’s distilleries, from legendary, global brands to emerging micro distillers that are building upon two centuries of craftsmanship and tradition.
Kentucky’s distillers generate $8.6 billion in annual output, more than 20,100 jobs with a $1 billion payroll and $2.3 in current capital investment. The KDA’s Kentucky Bourbon Trail® tours recorded nearly 2 million visits in 2019 with 70% of guests from outside the state.
“Our members have proven time and time again that we can accomplish more by working together,” Pendergrass said, “And the truest test of a signature industry is how we support each other and our communities to respond in times of crisis.
“We are proud of how the KDA and its distillers have stepped up to help.”