Bourbon Distilleries Adding a New Product to Their Liquor Lineup: Hand Sanitizer

Photo courtesy of Lexington Brewing and Distilling Co.'s Facebook Page

Several Kentucky bourbon distilleries are shifting from making alcohol for drinking, to making alcohol to protect the public against coronavirus.

Lexington Brewing and Distilling Co., Rabbit Hole Distillery, Woodford Reserve Distillery, Old Forester Distillery, and Wilderness Trail Distillery are making hand sanitizer, to help curb a national shortage. Hand sanitizer remains in high demand yet is difficult, if not impossible, to find on store shelves.

These distilleries are providing this hand sanitizer free of charge. Lexington Brewing and Distilling Co. announced they would be delivering its first batch of 200 bottles to city hall in Lexington on Friday. They said additional batches are being prepared for delivery early next week.

“As the community rallies together amid the adversity caused by COVID-19, we want to do our part,” said Mark Coffman, master distiller at Town Branch. “In this small way, we are able to help our neighbors and support the ongoing effort to keep everyone safe and healthy.”

Lexington Brewing and Distilling Co. says their hand sanitizer is made up of 80% alcohol, aloe vera gel and a small amount of hydrogen peroxide, along with natural ingredients added for scent. The bottles are made with recyclable glass.

Wilderness Trail Distillery, located in Danville, is also producing the hot commodity for healthcare providers, “in an effort to support those on the front lines during the battle against the spread of Coronavirus.”

In a press release they said they are using their ethynyl alcohol to produce hand sanitizer for Ephraim McDowell Regional Medical Center. Wilderness Trail says they plan to produce 500 gallons a week for the next six to seven weeks.

“If we need to continue from there, we will,” says Shane Baker, Master Distiller and Distillery Co-Owner. “Our goal is to take care of the healthcare providers.”

Pernod Richard USA, which owns Louisville based Rabbit Hole Distillery, announced this week that its U.S. operations would start producing and donating hand sanitizer to help fight the COVID-19 outbreak.

Alexandre Ricard, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer of Pernod Ricard, said, “As the world is facing a major pandemic, companies must mobilize, not only to ensure the safety of their employees, but also to contribute to collective efforts in accordance with their capabilities. By sharing our resources and making our production facilities available wherever they are needed, we are supporting our fellow citizens and local authorities. I would like to thank our employees who have worked hard to make everything possible in record time, all over the world.”

Pernod Ricard’s other sites making hand sanitizer are their manufacturing plant in Ft. Smith, Ark., Smooth Ambler in Lewisburg, WV., and TX Whiskey in Fort Worth, TX.

Brown-Forman distilleries are also producing and donating hand sanitizer. On Friday, Woodford Reserve, in Versailles, and Old Forester, in Louisville, made and delivered hand sanitizer to medical teams.

The distilleries gave 5,000 bottles to Norton Hospitals in Louisville and 1,000 bottles to Woodford County’s Emergency Medical Services, according to Elizabeth Conway, a spokesperson for Brown-Forman. They said they will continue to make hand sanitizer as much as supplies will allow.

This comes as bourbon distilleries across Kentucky are currently closed to the public. Suspending tours, tastings, and closing down their gift shops as a precautionary measure to the growing COVID-19 pandemic.