distillery worker packages hand sanitizer

Photo Source: Eve Edelheit / The New York Times

Craft Distilleries Pivot Back To Booze After Making Hand Sanitizer

In the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic, hand sanitizer was flying off the shelves as hospitals, medical workers and profiteers bought out the supply. In response, the Food and Drug Administration temporarily eased regulations, allowing distillers and other companies to produce and sell the product. For distillers, making hand sanitizer made perfect sense, especially when sales of booze dropped as bars and restaurants closed. The equipment and proper licensing to handle ethanol were already acquired, leaving only the final steps of actually manufacturing and selling the product. To make hand sanitizer, Jonathan Eagan, a co-owner of the Arizona Distilling Company, spent $50,000 on alcohol this past spring. Shortly afterward, he says the company made enough money to cover two months of lost liquor sales. However, as panic-buying of the disinfectant subsided and larger companies stabilized production, “the business just kind of dried up” in the last few weeks, according to Eagan. Now, many distilleries that made the switch are going back to making booze. “It kept the lights on, it kept the guys working and employed when we were shut down for tours and tasting,” Barry Butler, owner of Tarpon Springs Distillery, said of producing sanitizer. But “as a long-term economic solution for a distillery, it’s not a way to make money,” he added. Get the full story here at The New York Times (subscription required).

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