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Can Distilleries Handle the Demand for Disinfectants?

Can Distilleries Handle the Demand for Disinfectants?

Unfortunately but understandably, hand sanitizer is in its shortest supply since before it was invented. Your local drug store hasn’t stocked any in weeks, and the few shipments they receive sell out in minutes the moment doors open.

This presents an issue that cannot be understated. People with compromised immune systems who need sanitizers to stay safe during the outbreak of COVID-19 do not have adequate access to a comfortable supply.

The situation is not as dire as it seems, however. Some call it luck, others call it the American way; Distilleries across the nation mobilize to produce hand sanitizer by doing what they do best: distilling alcohol.

Yes, the same alcohol that you mix with cranberry juice and a few ice cubes is now one of the most desired ingredients among healthcare organizations and first responders. I’ve outlined the specifics behind the law which allows this phenomenon to occur in a separate article on the blog.

Essentially, distilleries that sit on, or currently produce mass amounts of high-proof food-grade alcohol, are switching their production to partially or primarily hand sanitizer. This does some interesting things for not only the environment surrounding sanitation but also for where consumers will focus their demand.

Disinfect Connect predicts a dramatic spike in demand for distillery-made hand sanitizer nationwide. If this is the case -- which is likely given the trajectory of how things are going -- distilleries can expect to see a large and seemingly unmanageable amount of traffic.

Distilleries may look to local grocers for solutions to alleviate heavy traffic and anxious customers. Many grocery stores already implement a 6-foot social-distancing encouragement for patrons standing in line. Many utilize personal shoppers equipped with gloves and disinfectant to prevent contact spread. Others limit patrons inside the store at any given time and encourage staggered visits at certain hours.

All of these techniques would prove useful should distilleries find themselves slammed with customers. 

It’s no secret that tasting rooms and distillery warehouses are not equipped to safely and efficiently handle large groups of guests.

I’ve toured quite a few myself; every tour walks you past heavy machinery, delicate-looking flukes, and lethally heavy oak barrels. The taped lines symbolizing ‘do not cross’ on the floor would do little to deter a mob of people crowding up to get their hand sanitizer.

That being said, I’d like to pose a few suggestions to both distillery and consumer alike.

For the distillery: we respect and admire your thankless work in what you’re doing. You’re doing a critically-important good for your communities and the morale of this entire country. Keep it up. Disinfect Connect is here to support you with resources and information should you need it. Don’t hesitate to reach out.

For the consumer: if you decide to visit your local distillery for hand sanitizer, please abide by any rules they have set-up. Rules exist for a reason, and to break them would put you and everyone around you (hopefully 6 feet apart #socialdistancing) in danger that you might not even be aware of. Stay safe, make pick-ups only if you’re healthy and support your distillery in however way possible. Buy a T-shirt, a bottle of whiskey, or even just a magnet. Every penny counts when distilleries have crew to pay, supplies to buy, and warehouses to run.

Thank you for your attention during this brief yet important read. Remember that Disinfect Connect prides itself on being a reputable and reliable source of information for all.

We will continue to update our community with relevant information regarding hand sanitizers and the impact we’re working to create alongside you.

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by Chris King / 3-18-20

Chris is an English Major at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.  He dedicates his time and energy to support Disinfect Connect by writing blog posts and producing content.