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News Briefs for March 26, 2020

March 26, 2020

•The COVID-19 stimulus package passed by the U.S. Senate includes a tax waiver for distillers making hand sanitizer. Specifically, the Senate bill waives federal excise taxes on the alcohol used to produce hand sanitizer. Numerous distillers and distilleries have diverted from beverage alcohol production in favor of the relief effort, but production of sanitizer continues to fall short of what’s needed. With financial troubles brewing across the industry, this is a lifeline for distillers on the front lines. Trade groups including the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States applauded the development but urged the government to go further, asking the FDA to allow hand sanitizer to be made with undenatured alcohol since many distilling operations do not have the capacity to denature their production and thus currently cannot contribute to containment efforts.

•Bacardi has upped its commitment to manufacture hand sanitizer, expanding the program from its Puerto Rico facility to eight others worldwide. They include Bacardi Bottling in Jacksonville, Florida, which will produce 23,000 gallons of hand sanitizer for donation to local hospitals and emergency workers; Bacardi rum in Tultitlán, Mexico; Grey Goose in Cognac, France, which will produce 7,600 gallons of alcohol daily for French manufacturers; Bombay Sapphire in Hampshire, England; Martini in Pessione, Italy; Dewar’s Whisky in Aberfeldy, Scotland; and Angel’s Envy Bourbon in Louisville, Kentucky. All told, the company expects to produce more than 267,000 gallons of hand sanitizer to aid in combating the spread of COVID-19.

•Constellation Brands has committed $2.5 million in COVID-19 relief funds across its various brands. The donation includes $1 million for the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation, $500,000 for the U.S. Bartenders’ Guild, and $250,000 to support first responders. Additionally, the company is contributing $250,000 to relief efforts in Italy, home of its Ruffino brand. It’s also establishing a company COVID-19 relief fund, which will match its employees contributions 2 to 1, and launching an employee effort to support local restaurants via take-out and delivery orders.

•Heaven Hill Brands has pledged $400,000—plus an ongoing donation of hand sanitizer—to help combat the COVID-19 outbreak spreading across the U.S. The company will focus its monetary donation in two areas: to its employees’ communities and to hospitality professionals in need. Heaven Hill will donate to Louisville, Kentucky’s One Louisville; Bardstown’s Tri-County United Way; Austin, Texas’ Stand with Austin; Lethbridge, Canada’s United Way of Lethbridge & South Western Alberta; and Dublin, Ireland’s Community Foundation of Ireland. The company will also donate directly to charitable organizations across the U.S. benefiting hospitality workers. In addition, a portion of the distilling resources at Deep Eddy Tasting Room, the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience, and Black Velvet distillery will be dedicated to producing hand sanitizer for healthcare professionals, high-risk people, and first responders.

•E.&J. Gallo-owned Barefoot is donating $100,000 to Children of Restaurant Employees (CORE). In addition, Gallo will match U.S.-based employee contributions one-to-one through its employee match program. While Gallo’s tasting rooms are currently closed, the company told SND in recent days that their online sales remain active, with a portion of those sales to be donated to local charities in their respective regions.

•Davos Brands’ Aviation Gin brand has announced a twofold approach to assisting bartenders during the coronavirus pandemic. To kick off its initiative, titled #TipYourBartender, the company is donating $15,000 to the United States Bartender’s Guild. In addition, Aviation will donate a 30% tip to the USBG for every bottle of Aviation ordered online in the U.S., through May 1. The brand, co-owned by actor Ryan Reynolds, has seen strong growth in the last few years, surpassing 80,000 cases in the U.S. in 2019.

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