Distillers relieved $14k fee connected to making hand sanitizer removed


LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – Distillers across the country had a close call with a giant bill they’d have to pay at the end of 2020.

All because they switched from alcohol you can drink, to alcohol you can use on your hands.

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Hand sanitizer was hard to find at the start of the pandemic, something that encouraged distillers like Bluegrass Distillers in Lexington to fill the demand.

The team started making and producing sanitizing products to try to stay open.

Fast forward to the end of 2020 when distillers were slapped with a $14,000 drug maker’s fee for the sanitizers.

Thursday, the FDA rescinded the fee saying it was a mistake.

While it’s been deemed a mistake, Bluegrass Distillers’ co-owner Nathan Brown says he’s still on edge about it.

“For perspective, we were doing a couple $100,000 total a year, before sanitizer and the whole thing happened, so for a $14,000 bill out of nowhere, would have been far more than we had in our bank account by several multiples,” Brown said.

The distillery is back to making bourbon again, but says it won’t stop making sanitizing products just yet.

Even including room for sanitizers in its upcoming expansion to Midway, where Brown says he can make up to 150 times more bourbon.

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Monica Harkins joined the ABC 36 News team in June 2019 as a Multimedia journalist and Anchor/Producer. She’s born and raised in Austin, Texas and headed “North,” as she calls it, to study broadcast journalism and business at the University of Missouri. While at Mizzou she anchored and reported for KOMU 8 News, an NBC affiliate in Columbia, Missouri all four years. During her childhood she played almost every sport, but they always called her “Hollywood” for her love of theatre. In high school, she realized her excitement for theatre and performing was only a small piece of the puzzle. It’s story telling that’s her passion. She’s especially passionate about social media and creative platforms to tell stories. Her most recent experiment is being a FAA certified drone pilot. As a proud Texan she says she’s made of country music, Southern hospitality and Sweet Tea. When she’s not at work you can find her trying new recipes, listening to crime podcasts, reading the latest romance novel or rockin’ out to live music with friends. She says she’s only a tweet or Facebook message away, so say hi and send her the latest on your community. @MonicaHarkinstv or Mharkins@wtvq.com