Black Button Distilling Switches Gears Amid Pandemic & Saves Employees


Over the past eight years, Jason Barrett has received 5 SBA loans, rapidly growing his business, and being named to Inc. Magazine’s Top 5,000 list in 2018.  Black Button Distilling earned the rank of number 2020 on the list, making it the fastest growing distillery in the Northeast US.

There are numerous talents that go into being a successful entrepreneur.  One of them, says head distiller Jason Barrett, is being a quick study.  Barrett’s ability to design craft whisky, detect subtle flavors and run his own small business has served him well.  He produces more than 800 barrels of bourbon whisky per year along with several other spirits such as Loganberry Gin, Citrus Forward Gin, All American Corn Vodka, and Apple Pie Moonshine to name a few.

Moving ahead to March 2020 and amid the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Barrett turned to the SBA again.  

Created in 1953, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) helps small business owners and entrepreneurs pursue the American dream. The SBA is the only cabinet-level federal agency fully dedicated to small business and provides counseling, capital, and contracting expertise as the nation’s only go-to resource and voice for small businesses.

“I was worried about my 83 employees and going out of business,” said Barrett.  “We applied and were approved for the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program.”

“Barrett is a perfect example of a business that SBA has helped during this COVID-19 pandemic. The Paycheck Protection Program provides loan forgiveness for retaining employees by temporarily expanding the traditional SBA 7(a) loan program,” said SBA Buffalo District Director Franklin J. Sciortino.

Switching gears, Barrett modified his operations to manufacture ethanol-based hand sanitizer, keeping his employees on the books.  What’s more, the distillery produces 70,000 bottles of the ethanol-based hand-sanitizer per week to local hospitals, doctor’s offices’, nursing homes and even out of state to New York, Dallas, Iowa, Louisiana, and Florida.

“This was never part of a plan,” Barrett adds, but I felt an obligation to help my employees.  They are truly the ones who should receive the recognition.  They are on the front-lines day in and day out, lifting the load, and I’m proud of them all.”

Barrett also thanks all his local suppliers: Genesee Brewing (sterile water), Fee Brothers (glycerol), Western NY Energy (ethanol) and Tricorbraun (packaging).

“With the changes we’ve made and the changes in the economy, I want to thank the SBA and Paycheck Protection Program for allowing Black Button Distilling to continue its operations and for allowing me to maintain my workforce.” says owner Jason Barrett.



This article does not constitute or imply an endorsement by the SBA of any opinions, products, or services of any private individual or entity.