As COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc around the world and here at home, two local distilleries hope to help by adding hand sanitizer to their production line up.
Both Collingwood-based Heretic Spirits and Canadian Mist Distillery shifted production from gin, vodka and Canadian whiskey to sanitizer within the past week in accordance with the World Health Organization (WHO) recipe.
The move follows many other artisan and small-batch distilleries across Canada who have switched their efforts to creating the sought-after substance, including over 20 distilleries in Ontario alone.
“There is a massive collaborative effort with the Ontario craft distilleries,” said Scott Morrison, chief executive officer of Heretic Spirits. “We are all working together and sharing information, helping each other access raw materials. It’s amazing.”
As of today, Heretic Spirits and Canadian Mist Distillery have produced over 4,000 and 1,000 litres of hand sanitizer respectively. The WHO specifies that hand sanitizer alcohol-by-volume (ABV) must meet or exceed 60 per cent to be effective against the coronavirus. While alcohol is something distillers currently have in high supply, raw materials have been harder to find.
“A total learning curve. It’s been quite the week,” said Morrison. “We’ve had to create a completely new supply chain for products we have never had to source before, at a time when the markets are shifting so rapidly.”
Morrison hopes once raw ingredients become readily available they can offer their product to the public, but for now they are focusing their attention on at-risk individuals, first responders and First Nations communities.
“We are trying to focus our attention first on the people who need it most, and the most quickly,” said Morrison.
Canadian Mist is also distributing its 80 per cent alcohol sanitizer to first responders and healthcare facilities who need it in and around Collingwood.
“As a distillery deeply rooted in Canadian culture, we felt it was our duty to contribute by producing hand sanitizer in addition to our quality whiskey,” David Dobbin, AVP General Manager at the Canadian Mist Distillery said in a press release on Monday. “We are proud to aid those who are at the front lines of this pandemic with a resource to help support the health and safety of our employees and communities.”
Morrison and Dobbin confirm that the health of their employees remains their number one priority, putting new processes in place to ensure everybody — and the working environment — is kept safe.
Both distilleries plan to produce sanitizer as long as it is required and while supplies are available.