Craft distilleries urging Florida governor to relax alcohol shipping restrictions to save jobs

Craft distilleries urging Florida governor to relax alcohol shipping restrictions to save jobs

ST. AUGUSTINE. Fla. — Distilleries across Florida stepped up to make hand sanitizer when first responders and hospitals needed them the most.

But now that demand has virtually disappeared, leaving them with declining sales.

Phil McDaniel, owner of the St. Augustine Distillery, showed Action News Jax what’s left of the hand sanitizer his staff made.

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“Made enough to keep the company floating and then we also with some of the profits we donated a bunch back into the local community,” said McDaniel.

But now that demand has dropped significantly leaving the St. Augustine Distillery struggling.

“What it’s done is it’s put more pressure on our normal business,” said McDaniel.

With bars still closed in Florida and tourism down, being able to sell spirits directly to the consumer would bring in much needed revenue.

Other alcohol-based businesses like wineries can do it but distilleries face a roadblock.

“Why are you discriminating against one particular category just because of a law that’s 100 years old? It’s time for change,” said McDaniel.

Through an executive order, Gov. Ron DeSantis can relax the laws governing alcohol shipments.

He was at a news conference in Jacksonville Thursday, so we asked.

“Look it seems like it would be something that would be reasonable I don’t know what the underlying law is I’d have to review it and then see what my authority would be to waive this or that,” said DeSantis.

McDaniel said relaxing the laws will also allow the state to tax each bottle sold, helping the state replenish its coffers but more importantly it would save jobs.

“In six months, seven months these businesses could be gone,” said McDaniel.

McDaniel said he and other distillers could use your help. He’s asking everyone who enjoys shopping local to call or write the governor’s office and urge him to save craft distilleries.