As the saying goes ‘when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade’, so, when there’s a virus pandemic and you own a distillery you make…hand sanitiser.
Many gin distilleries across the UK, from Dundee to London, are now switching their production from gin to hand sanitiser to help fight the spread of coronavirus.
We see it in the news on a daily basis that we are required to wash our hands regularly or use hand sanitiser (which contains at least 60% alcohol) to keep ourselves and everyone around us safe. So, when there is a national shortage of hand sanitisers up and down the country some distilleries are taking it upon themselves to produce their own sanitiser using their in-house alcohol, giving it to the people and organisations in their local communities who are most in need of it.
We’ve taken a look at 6 gin distilleries in the UK that are putting their resources to good use in these challenging times.
1. Portobello Road Gin Distillery
London based gin makers of the famous Portobello Road Gin are among other distilleries in the capital who have answered the call from the Metropolitan Police and are now producing hand sanitiser using a formula from the World Health Organisation for police officers on the job.
Jake Burger, co-founder of the Portobello Road Gin distillery, said: “Obviously due to the coronavirus situation hand sanitiser is in short supply across the country, but we are able to re-purpose some of our equipment and capitalise on our experience handling high strength ethanol to quickly step in and produce one to a formula recommended by the World Health Organisation.
“If we here at Portobello Road Gin and The Distillery can help, in even the smallest way, to try and keep front line workers safe and well during the crisis then we will endeavour to do so.”
They are aiming to make around 1,500 bottles per week to keep up with the high demand.
Mark Roberts, the police’s director of commercial services, said:
“Hand sanitiser is an essential item for our officers and staff, especially those on the frontline. So I am extremely grateful to all of the suppliers who have agreed to work with us and provide us with this vital commodity.”
You can visit the Portobello Road website by clicking here.
2. Silent Pool Distillers
Makers of the hugely popular Silent Pool Gin started producing their own hand sanitiser in mid-March. The Surrey based distillers have reconfigured their operation and are now producing sanitiser for key workers within the local community, these include staff at The Royal Surrey County Hospital, GP surgeries, Surrey Police, care homes (as well as individual carers) and local charities. The Met Police firearms team and prison staff have also been supplied with the sanitiser. Named the ‘Silent Treatment Hand Sanitiser’ it is made with a high-strength alcohol (80% ABV) and naturally extracted botanical oils.
The sanitiser can be purchased at the distillery shop, with sales currently limited to 50 bottles per day due to the high demand within the local community. It is also available to buy on their website by clicking here, plus they’re offering a free bottle with every gin purchase (not including miniatures).
You can purchase their hand sanitiser by clicking here.
3. Harrogate Tipple Gin
One of our local distilleries, Harrogate Tipple have taken it on themselves to also get in the mix of producing their own hand sanitiser at their distillery in Ripley just outside of Harrogate. They had heard of the unrest being caused by the lack of hand sanitiser including thefts from their local Hospital in Harrogate, so took matters in to their own hands and after a bit of research and sourcing all the necessary ingredients they put it in to production.
Steven Green, co-founder of Harrogate Tipple, said: “With organisations such as care homes, GP practices and dental practices all struggling to source much-needed hand sanitiser, we realised that we could help by quickly switching production
“Working with my fantastic production manager, Andrea Natiello, we consulted World Health Organisation guidelines and last week successfully produced our first batch of 500 bottles of 80 per cent alcohol-based hand sanitiser.
“Our plan is to supply the hand sanitiser at cost, with no profit margin, to the care sector, charities and other businesses providing vital public services. However, as a distillery, HMRC told us we would still be liable to pay duty on the alcohol used in the hand sanitiser. Fortunately, hearing of the problem, Andrew Jones got in touch and has been in discussions with HMRC which has now agreed to waive the duty, enabling us to make the product at a realistic cost.”
As well as Harrogate Gin, Harrogate tipple also produce rum and are the creators behind Downton Abbey Gin.
Their hand sanitiser can be purchased from here: harrogatetipple.com
4. Isle of Harris Distillery
The Scottish gin makers of the award-winning Isle of Harris Gin have joined forces with Essence of Harris, a candle and fragrance maker, and A.S. Apothecary, a small batch distiller and apothecary, providing them with high-strength alcohol as the virus-killing ingredient required to make hand sanitiser during the pandemic.
Jamie McGowan, chief executive of Essence of Harris, said: “I will personally deliver these bottles with my team to a wide variety of public-facing workers in the area and we will also be sending a box down to the Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre. At times like these, we must work together to keep our communities as safe and healthy as possible.
“The local community here on the Island really supported me when I started my business so it is only right that I support them in a time of need.
“Public-facing workers are providing a lifeline service to our islands, for which I am hugely grateful, and my team are proud to get behind them and do our bit to help them help others.”
The bottles of sanitiser named ‘Spirit of the Hebrides’, which have been made under guidance provided by the World Health Organisation, are being given out for free to key workers in the Western Isles including local fire, police, coastguard and ambulance services as well as schools, care homes, charities, chemists, surgeries and postal workers.
Ms Amanda Saurin of A.S. Apothecary, who lives in the village of Northton in South Harris, has produced 25ml bottles of a hand-sanitiser spray using the alcohol spirit and essential oils including rosemary and mint which have microbial properties.
The sanitiser spray bottles are being provided free of charge to local care homes, community shops, NHS workers and other vital services in the local area. A version of the sanitiser is available to buy online by clicking here priced at £5.25 with proceeds going towards manufacturing costs.
Simon Erlanger, managing director of Isle of Harris Distillers Ltd, said: “The Harris Distillery team is very pleased to support this important local initiative which requires high-strength alcohol as a key ingredient.
“It is vital we all keep working together to protect our community at this critical time, and we hope this donation of our spirit will play a small part in keeping our key workers and wider family safe while we face the challenges which lie ahead.”
You can visit their website by clicking here.
5. Nelson’s Distillery & School
The artisan distillery, Nelson’s Distillery & School in East Staffordshire, is better known for its award-winning gins which include Nelson’s Rhubarb and Custard gin, but as the shortage of sanitiser continues they have turned their hands to making a very different kind of alcohol-based product.
With the distillery now producing their own hand sanitiser, Neil Harrison, an award-winning chef and founder of Nelson’s, has been hands on in the operation personally hand-delivering supplies of the product to those most in need of it within the local community. The residents of Clifton village, near Ashbourne, and the district nurses of St Oswald Hospital, Ashbourne, have all received a delivery from Mr Harrison. The police at Staffordshire Police headquarters were also sent a supply of the sanitisers in the post.
In addition to their hand sanitiser, Nelson’s have also released their limited edition Charity Gin pictured below.
The hand sanitiser, named Timur Scented hand sanitiser, has been designed to smell like Nelson’s treble-award-winning Timur Gin offering a citric aroma, quite similar to grapefruit. Mr Harrison said: “I’m just doing my bit for the NHS, key workers and those most vulnerable. It’s testing times for everyone at the moment. Everyone should do what they can to help out.”
Customers who make a purchase of more than £30 through Nelson’s online shop will receive a free bottle of their very own limited edition Timur Scented hand sanitiser – subject to availability. Visit their website by clicking here.
6. Dyfi Distillery
Welsh gin producers of award-winning gins, including Dyfi Original Gin and Pollination Gin, are making hand sanitiser after teaming up with Stori Beers and Dwr Cerist to bottle the sanitizer and distribute it to essential services within the local area. Dyfi Distillery, owned by the Cameron brothers, appealed to the public for plastic containers to produce the WHO-standard hand sanitiser.
Co-founder Danny Cameron said: “We were asked by many companies if we could bottle huge quantities and sell it, but raw materials are scarce, and we needed the goodwill of volunteers as our normal workforce is furloughed. We preferred to donate everything we can produce free of charge to support local critical services, as a thank you for what they are doing for the community.”
Dify Distillery have been distributing the hand sanitiser to local organisations including hospitals, ambulance, social care, police and Royal Mail.
You can visit their website by clicking here.