Distilleries using high-proof alcohol to make hand sanitizer

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Chad Butters, founder of Eight Oaks Farm Distillery, poses for a photo at their facility in New Tripoli, Pa., Monday, March 16, 2020. Butters, who grew increasingly angry as he saw the skyrocketing price of hand sanitizer, has decided to do something about it: He's temporarily converting his operation into a production line for the suddenly hard-to-find, gooey, alcohol-based disinfectant. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

NEW TRIPOLI, Pa. – A Pennsylvania distillery owner who grew increasingly angry as he saw the skyrocketing price of hand sanitizer has decided to do something about it: He’s temporarily converting his operation into a production line for the suddenly hard-to-find, gooey, alcohol-based disinfectant.

Eight Oaks Farm Distillery filled its first 20 bottles on Monday, a batch destined for charitable groups that need hand sanitizer but haven’t been able to get it due to the coronavirus pandemic. The family-owned distillery plans to dramatically boost production this week and distribute the bottles to charities as well as offer them at farmers’ markets where it sells its spirits and through its website.

The price: whatever people decide to donate.

“We are in a national emergency,” said brewery founder Chad Butters. “What’s the right thing to do? The right thing to do is support this community by providing something that is in desperate need. We’ll flood the valley with hand sanitizer and drive that price right down.”

Other distilleries are also putting their spirits to work to help fill the shortage of hand sanitizers. Green Mountain Distillers in Morrisville, Vermont, is giving away a hand sanitizing solution and Durham Distillery in Durham, North Carolina, is donating one to hospitality colleagues, using high-proof alcohol and other ingredients. Patrons must bring their own containers.

“We wanted to do something that would be as positive as possible,” said Harold Faircloth, an owner of Green Mountain Distillers.

Smugglers’ Notch Distillery, also in Vermont, plans to launch a hand sanitizer later this week at its Waterbury and Jeffersonville sites. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to Vermont’s efforts to respond to the virus outbreak.

“I know I have a unique opportunity to help out a little bit and keep my staff employed,” said co-owner Jeremy Elliott, who said 40% of his business comes from bars and restaurants, which are closing in some parts of the country.