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Distilleries Switch From Making Whisky To Making Hand Sanitiser

The ripple effect from the coronavirus is being felt as some restaurants and bars close. But a few businesses are improvising, including distilleries that are shifting from distributing spirits to sanitiser.

The fallout from the coronavirus is becoming a reality for Jonathan Shair. Shair is the general manager of Twin Valley Distillers in Montgomery County, Maryland, USA. On any given day, the distillery used to see between 40 and 50 people, but now the tasting room is closed.

Shair and his boss, Edgardo Zuniga, are facing pressures like other small businesses around the country.

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"Right now, we’re completely shut down. I mean, we're working half days just to keep things moving around. But if we have to shut down, we have to stop making everything," says Zuniga, the owner of Twin Valley Distillers.

Instead of letting the gallons of alcohol in the distillery go to waste, the company has switched to making hand sanitiser. It’s a blend of oils and proof alcohol that the business is selling to not only keep themselves busy, but contribute to the greater good.

Shair says, "At first it was an idea of: OK, how can we keep this ship afloat in the meantime? Then we realized it was a little bigger than that." The two say it’s a call to action at a time when store shelves in the area, and nationwide, are scarce on hand sanitiser and other cleaning supplies.

Twin Valley Distillery adapting to the crisis (CBS)

It’s caught the attention of government officials who are considering buying batches to help slow the spread of the virus. "It's not anything that we've ever done before, not anything we've planned for before about four or five days ago. So we're sort of learning on the fly," said Shair.

And while they realise they could stand to profit off of the in-demand solution, they’re focused on getting as much sanitiser out to people as possible because they say: we’re all in this together.