Coronavirus: Distilleries are switching from alcohol to hand sanitiser

The distillery-made sanitiser is free to charities.

The distillery-made sanitiser is free to charities. Photo: Eight Oaks Farm

Distilleries in Australia are converting their operations to produce much-needed hand sanitiser.

Both Beenleigh Rum Distillery and Bundaberg Rum Distillery are using existing production lines and staff to make the hard-to-come-by liquid.

Queensland Minister for State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning Cameron Dick thanked the distilleries for stepping into the breach to supply sanitiser to schools and frontline workers.

Australian cricket great Shane Warne halted production of gin at the SevenZeroEight distillery that he co-owns to make medical-grade hand sanitiser for hospitals.

“This is a challenging time for Australians and we all need to do what we can to help our healthcare system combat this disease and save lives,” Warne said on his Instagram page.

Tasmanian gin distillery, Southern Wild, says it is ready to shift its entire business to a not-for profit producer of hand-sanitiser-for-schools if it gets the go ahead from the state government.

Southern Wild owner George Burgess on Friday said the company was well positioned to begin making sanitiser immediately.

The developments come as US distilleries have also switched to making the alcohol-based disinfectant.

Pennsylvania’s Eight Oaks Farm Distillery filled its first 20 bottles on Monday, according to The Associated Press, sending the batch to charitable groups that get hand sanitiser due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The family-owned distillery reportedly plans to dramatically boost production as it distributes the bottles to charities, offers them at farmers’ markets where it sells its alcohol, and via its website.

The price for the hard-to-get liquid is “whatever people decide to donate”.

“We are in a national emergency,” brewery founder Chad Butters, was quoted as saying by AP.

“What’s the right thing to do? The right thing to do is support this community by providing something that is in desperate need. We’ll flood the valley with hand sanitiser and drive that price right down.”

Green Mountain Distillers in Vermont is giving away a hand sanitising solution, while North Carolina’s Durham Distillery is donating a solution to hospitality colleagues. Patrons must bring their own containers.

“We wanted to do something that would be as positive as possible,” said Harold Faircloth, an owner of Green Mountain Distillers.

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