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Distilleries May Make Hand Sanitizer

TTB Allows Distilled Spirit Permittees to Produce Ethanol-based Hand Sanitizer without Further Permits through June 30, 2020
by Curtis Phillips
March 27, 2020

Last week I noted that several distilleries outside of the US were changing over to the production of hand sanitizer. I opined that it would be a good thing if US distilleries could follow suit. The somewhat byzantine regulations surrounding alcohol production in the US seemed to require a different permit than the beverage DSP (Distilled Spirits Plant) that must be held by all beverage alcohol producers.

Since I wrote that column, the TTB has announced that it is exempting all beverage DSPs, as well as Alcohol Fuel Plants (AFPs), to produce hand sanitizer, and to supply ethanol for the use in manufacturing hand sanitizer, without having to acquire authorization from the TTB beforehand.
There are several provisos that DSPs should keep in mind.

  • Records regarding ethanol production should be kept as per usual.
  • Hand sanitizers need to be produced according to WHO guidelines.
  • Excise tax still needs to paid on any ethanol-based hand sanitizer that is not denatured. Denaturing is defined under 27 CFR Part 21. The same part of 27 CFR also provides a number of allowed denaturing formulae.
  • If the ethanol used to produce hand sanitizer is denatured in accordance with 27 CFR, then no excise tax needs to be paid, but the distiller’s records should show that the ethanol was withdrawn from bond and denatured.

All of this is good news. The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) also has a resource page for distillers which includes list of distillers currently producing hand sanitizer as well as a list of distillers seeking supplies like hydrogen peroxide or packaging materials.

DISCUS is also lobbying to allow the production of hand sanitizer from undenatured ethanol while waiving the Federal Excise Tax that would be otherwise due. The bill recently passed by the Senate includes such a waiver, but that has to pass the House of Representatives, and be signed by the President, before it becomes law.


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