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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Distilleries across the United States are calling for leaders in Washington D.C. to provide them with economic relief. In Alabama, making distilled spirits is an $822 million industry providing over 9,000 jobs. However, that could soon take a turn for the worse.

Pre-COVID distilleries in the state were poised to get bigger and better.

“We would have a line outside the distillery. Basically around this corner and down the hall. Sometimes over 170 people in line.” said Jeff Irons, the owner if Irons Distillery.

Irons said offering online sales has worked out well. Now he sells out in 90 seconds.

“We sell online and people pay for it there,” Irons said. “They’ll know if they got the product or not. Then they come to the distillery and pick it up.”

Irons admits he’s lucky his business model is working. Other distilleries that rely on tasting rooms and bar-type settings may not be so fortunate.

“I don’t think it’s going very well at all. In fact, I think a number of small distilleries will not survive this,” said Irons.

Distillers are calling on Congress to provide permanent federal tax relief, centered on their production taxes, which happened about a year ago and helped. Now they want the move to be permanent. Irons added Alabama legislators could have a bigger impact on the tax situation compared to leaders in D.C.

“That would certainly help out. This is a small and growing business,” Irons said. “It would be wonderful because we are surrounded by states that are pretty good on taxes. We are not so good.”

The Alabama Distillers Association said their industry connects farmers, truck drivers, warehouses and the entertainment industry, adding damage to distillers goes a long way.

“If we want to encourage people to get into this business, we need to make this a pro-business environment for them,” Irons said.