Last Saturday, Tony Formby, owner of Acre Distilling in Fort Worth, was in the same position as everyone else. He couldn’t find hand sanitizer anywhere.
He did some research and figured out that he could make some disinfectant using the neutral spirits he uses in his distilling process for whiskey and vodka.
By watering it down to 70 percent from its 95 percent state so it doesn’t evaporate as quickly, then adding some xanthan gum to thicken it, he created a mixture that worked well for their use at the distillery and bar.
“We’ve been using it since Saturday and it works great!” Formby noted.
When customers saw it, they started asking for it. But Formby isn’t sure he is allowed to sell it.
“We are getting many messages from people looking for it,” Formby said.
Nevertheless, when a local nursing home came calling on Wednesday morning, he whipped up a batch to help them.
“We aren’t looking to sell it. We are just trying to help out given the circumstances. We are absorbing the cost,” Formby said.
But he added that if any government entity wants him to help out in this way, he is willing.
“We don’t want to risk our distiller’s permit,” he added. The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission regulates what they can sell and give away. Its website says that it is currently working on guidance for distillers about producing hand sanitizer.
It appears, under Texas Government Code Chapter 418.016 that the governor can suspend regulations that impede or hinder “necessary action in dealing with a disaster.”
Distilleries in Pennsylvania, Vermont, and North Carolina have done similar things.
“The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States is working with Congress and the Trump Administration to ease tax regulations that could force distillers producing desperately needed hand sanitizer to pay federal excise taxes on the alcohol used.”
Due to Fort Worth’s recent declaration, Acre Distilling had to close its tasting room. But they are still at work distilling their spirits and hope to re-open for curbside retail bottle sales soon.
Update: Acre Distilling heard late last night that both the federal and state governments have cleared the way for them to make hand sanitizer. They can be contacted through their website. Requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis for a donation of sanitizer.
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Kim Roberts is a reporter for the Texan in the DFW metroplex area where she has lived for over twenty years. She has a Juris Doctor from Baylor University Law School and a Bachelor's in government from Angelo State University. In her free time, Kim home schools her daughter and coaches high school extemporaneous speaking and apologetics. She has been happily married to her husband for 23 years, has three wonderful children, and two dogs.