Gin Distillery Switches to Making Powerful Hand Sanitizer, Will Give It Out for Free

Craft gin distilleries in Scotland are suspending the production of spirits to make powerful hand sanitizers—as local communities face shortages due to COVID-19.

Several booze businesses across the country are currently turning their attention to help solve an apparent shortage of alcohol-based hand gels in the wake of the novel coronavirus outbreak, which has infected more than 200,000 people and caused more than 8,200 deaths globally, with over 82,000 recoveries.

Leith Gin co-founders Karin and Derek Mair told the Edinburgh Evening News their version is produced based on World Health Organization guidelines—and will be free.

"It just seems the right thing to do," Karin Mair told the local newspaper, noting they still need help with distribution, packaging and the creation of health and safety labels. "We'll take the hit. It's very labor intensive but nobody's buying gin so we may as well do something with ourselves."

"Alcohol-based handrubs are the only known means for rapidly and effectively inactivating a wide array of potentially harmful microorganisms on hands," the WHO says online. Leith Gin says it's high-strength alcohol is one crucial ingredient of a sanitizer gel home brew.

The Leith Gin owners said they hope to supply homes, nurseries and police stations with the sanitizer. On Facebook, they note that it will be free-of-charge "for those in need in our local community."

But it's far from the only distillery turning to philanthropy in this time of need. In fact, Scotsman Food and Drink reported yesterday that gin-makers across the country now are getting involved to make sanitizer for their communities, as brand-name gels become scarce on store shelves.

They include Deeside Distillery, Dunnet Bay Distillers, Stirling Gin, Kinrara Distillery, Verdant Distillers, Red Castle Gin, Glasgow Distilling Company and more, the food and drink blog reported.

Deeside Distillery said on Facebook that it had been "completely overwhelmed" by the number of organizations that made contact regarding shortages of hand sanitizer.

It said: "We are doing what we can to ensure that the frontline and primary care providers have stocks, including nurseries, schools, care homes and medical centers. Please be aware that this is our priority and we cannot respond to every member of the public who has contacted us through social media, phone calls or emails.

"We are speaking with other distilleries... and encouraging them to do what they can, as we realize that we're in a unique position to be able to create a base product that's got a high enough alcohol content. There's a severe shortage for those working in environments with those most vulnerable and we would love to see as many get the supplies that they so crucially need."

A statement from Deeside Distillery: "We have been completely overwhelmed by the number of organisations that have...

Posted by Deeside Distillery on Tuesday, March 17, 2020

The Scottish government said today that there have been 227 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the country so far. It said 6,091 tests had been concluded, with 5,864 coming back negative.

The first case of COVID-19 in the country was confirmed in March 2020, the government said. Three people in Scotland have died as a result of the novel coronavirus at the time of writing.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon told parliament yesterday that the county faces an "unprecedented challenge" in dealing with the outbreak, and toughened up steps to limit its potential spread. She said fighting the virus it will be the "biggest peacetime mission our nation has undertaken in our lifetimes."

Hand sanitizer
A bottle of hand sanitizer is seen at a food cart in Union Square on March 9, 2020 in New York City. Jeenah Moon/Getty