Spirits manufacturers continues to address hand sanitizer shortage
Distillers, state guilds working to combat disruption to hand cleaner supply chain
Recently, I introduced my children to “Charlotte’s Web.” Heroine Charlotte A. Cavatica makes her grand appearance when she sings to Wilbur, “Chin up, chin up, put a little laughter in your eyes, brave it, save it, even though you’re feeling otherwise, rise up, wise up, make a little smile begin, you’ll be happy-hearted, once you get it started, up with your chinny-chin-chin.”
As my family watched this classic 1973 film, the words in the song made me think of how many of us could use a reason (or many) to “chin up” as the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to weigh heavy on us. With so much difficult news to digest, it can be hard to find something to inspire a smile. However, the response from the spirits community not only got my chin up, but continues to amaze me each passing day.
Starting in mid- to late-March, my inbox started to fill up with news of distillers stepping up to manufacture hand sanitizer in response to the nationwide shortage. Distillers of all sizes have heeded the call, thanks to guidelines from the World Health Organization (WHO). Exemptions and authorizations granted by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) also have enabled many spirits-makers to manufacture ethanol-based hand sanitizer.
For instance, Bacardi expanded its commitment across countries and brands to produce more than 267,000 gallons of hand sanitizer. At the end of March, eight Bacardi-owned manufacturing sites across the United States, Mexico, France, England, Italy and Scotland joined the partnership, following its announcement that Bacardi in Puerto Rico would supply the alcohol to make the hand sanitizers.
Additionally, Sazerac Co. began its initial run of sanitizer at the end of March at its Buffalo Trace Distillery in Kentucky, but added that other Sazerac plants across the country are gearing up to produce the product as well. The distiller is producing hand sanitizer for some of the world’s largest organizations in healthcare, government, military, retail, distribution, airline, pharmacy and banking industries.
Craft distillers also are doing their part to stifle the rise of coronavirus. Wicked Dolphin Distillery donated its first batch of 1,000 bottles of hand and surface sanitizer to the Southwest Florida community. In partnership with Lee Health and Lee Co, Wicked Dolphin has been supplying police, fire and other high-risk facilities with hundreds of gallons of hand and surface sanitizer, it says.
Various distiller guilds have helped streamline distillers’ efforts across their respective states. In order to streamline production, Oregon distilleries are banding together. With efforts coordinated by the Oregon Distillers Guild and the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, Oregon distilleries are pooling resources to make hand sanitizer for the Oregon Health Authority (OHA). Meanwhile, members of the Washington Distillers Guild have banded together to take care of those on the front lines, it says. Several small, family owned distilleries in the state converted their operations to make thousands of gallons of hand sanitizer to help keep the healthcare community safe during the pandemic.
As this pandemic continues to affect us all in so many ways, it is good to see how those in the beverage industry are using their resources to help those in need.