SALEM – U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan visited Fabrizia Spirits in Salem today to meet with members of the New Hampshire Craft Spirits Organization to discuss how the tax relief she secured is helping them grow their businesses.
After a tour of the family-owned business by co-owners Phil and Nick Mastroianni, Senator Hassan discussed with members of the New Hampshire Craft Spirits how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted their businesses and their current outlook. Senator Hassan successfully worked to temporarily extend excise tax cuts for craft brewers and distillers in the bipartisan government funding bill in 2019 and then worked to permanently extend this tax relief at the end of 2020 in the government funding and COVID-19 relief package.
Roundtable participants included New Hampshire Craft Spirits Organization President Brian Ferguson of Flag Hill Distillery and Winery in Lee, Kevin Kurland of Smoky Quartz Distillery in Seabrook, Greg Meeh of Cold Garden Spirits in Canterbury, Ron Vars of Sea Hagg Distillery & Plaice Cove Spirits in North Hampton, Blake Amacker of Copper Cannon Distillery in West Chesterfield, Alisa Lawrence of New England Sweetwater Farm and Distillery in Winchester, Christopher Burk of Cathedral Ledge Distillery in North Conway, and CJ Lundergan of Steadfast Spirits Distillery Co. in Concord.
“The businesses here today embody the entrepreneurial spirit of our state. All across New Hampshire, distillers have built businesses that are driving our economy forward, but during the pandemic, they have had to work hard to adapt and continue to serve their customers,” said Senator Hassan. “As New Hampshire rebuilds from the pandemic, supporting our small businesses will be key to getting back on our feet. Not only are the distillers with me today beloved businesses within our communities, they are job creators whose leadership has been paramount to our economic recovery.”
During the roundtable, participants shared with the Senator how they were able to utilize Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans to stay afloat during the pandemic and the positive impact of the Senator’s efforts to permanently extend the reduction in excise taxes for craft breweries and distilleries.
“At Fabrizia Spirits, we specialize in hand-crafted, delicious Limoncello and refreshing, ready-to-drink beverages that customers enjoy throughout New Hampshire and 18 states. The tax relief that Senator Hassan helped secure for the craft beverage industry has helped us expand our business, create jobs, and better serve our customers. Additionally, we were glad to receive federal relief through the Paycheck Protection Program, which helped us ride out the rockier months of the pandemic and keep our staff on payroll. We look forward to continuing to work with Senator Hassan to support craft distillers,” said Phil Mastroianni, Co-Owner of Fabrizia Spirits.
“Before this we had three employees and two brands. And after the [Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act] we're up to ten employees,” said Ron Vars of Sea Hagg Distillery & Plaice Cove Spirits in North Hampton.
"We took the Craft Beverage Modernization Act - the savings on that - we take half of that and we invest in capital equipment to grow and expand our business. The other half of it we were giving in the form of bonus checks to all of our staff as a way to raise wages and once it was made permanent...Now it's officially a permanent increase in their salary and their wages across the company. It's been very effective for all of us. So I can't say thank you enough for that,” said Brian Ferguson of Flag Hill Distillery & Winery in Lee.
Kevin Kurland of Smoky Quartz Distillery in Seabrook said, “We've been open now about eight years, so we're one of the older ones...so we remember the excise tax when it was brutal and there were quarters [where] I would pay more in taxes than I had profit. I would need a bank loan to pay the excise tax, how terrible it was. So it's incredible that it's permanent now, I mean that's like a godsend for everyone."