Distillers Switch from Making Whiskey to Hand Sanitizer

Distillers hand sanitizer

Because of the Coronavirus outbreak, many companies have halted their plans for 2020, and the Whiskey industry is no different. Distillers big and small around the country have banded together and made the switch from whiskey (or other liquors) to making, selling, and distributing hand sanitizer.

This Isn’t the First Time–But it is Much Different

In 1941, the U.S. Government took over many distilleries after the attack on Pearl Harbor. These distilleries switched from creating liquor to ethanol, which was used to make antifreeze, munitions, synthetic rubber, and more for the country’s use in World War II. The difference here was that the government took control of these distilleries to create these goods. Now, distilleries want to help out, but were at first actually slowed by the government.

In the whiskey making process, there are certain products that cannot be included in beverages, but can be made into a general cleaning product. Of course, strict laws are in place for distilleries stating what they can and cannot do with these byproducts, meaning distilleries needed to wait for special permission to start producing cleaning products or hand sanitizer. Thankfully, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau changed these laws in mid-March to allow distillers that were already licensed to legally produce hand sanitizer.

How Distillers are Making Hand Sanitizer

The World Health Organization released a basic recipe for making hand sanitizer. Ethanol is a byproduct in the distilling process and has the ability to kill the virus. Other ingredients include hydrogen peroxide to assist in sanitizing, glycerol to keep the ethanol from evaporating to quickly, and distilled water.

Many of these distilleries count on business from their restaurants or giving tours of their facility to make money, which have been shut down or cancelled because of the COVID-19 outbreak. Not only do these efforts provide hand sanitizer to those in need, but they also keep employees working in a time when many industries are laying off or closing down entirely.

In times of trauma and uncertainty, it is great to be a part of an industry working to put the members of their community first–to help keep them safe in any way they can.