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HHS: Distilleries no longer required to pay $14K fine

Published: Jan. 1, 2021 at 11:00 PM CST
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DENISON, Texas (KXII) - 2021 is already off to a good start for distilleries across the country.

Hundreds of them no longer have to pay a large fee for making hand sanitizer.

Throughout the pandemic, many distilleries donated their alcohol for hand sanitizer production, a way many of them chose to help out their communities.

But shortly after, they were faced with a $14,060 fee from the Food and Drug Administration.

The thought of having to pay that much money, when so many distilleries were already struggling to stay a float, was devastating.

“Next year if something were to happen, and we would need to go into making hand sanitizer again, there would be no hesitation” said Jonathan Likarish.

Robert and Jonathan Likarish own Iron Root Republic Distillery in Denison.

During the hand sanitizer shortage, they pitched in more than 300 gallons of high-proof alcohol to a local hospital.

Iron Root didn’t make the sanitizer in house, so they wouldn’t have faced the fee, but they say other distilleries weren’t so lucky.

“All in all, we’re doing fairly well as a distillery. It really put us in a position where we could make the high-proof alcohol and donate it” Likarish said. “If all this happened a year or two ago, it would have been impossible for us to stay a float during the COVID pandemic.”

After receiving backlash on social media the Department of Health and Human Services told the FDA not to enforce the fee.

“A lot of distilleries were struggling, with tasting rooms being shut down a lot of them turned to making hand sanitizer to basically go into emergency mode and then get hit with that bill on top of that it was pretty much the icing on the cake” said Likarish.

He says now that the fee is waived many distilleries can get back to doing what they do best.

“We’re anxious to get back in and continue to make some of the bourbon, we’ve been out for a while, but we’ve got some new things in the works, so I’m pretty excited!” Likarish said.

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