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San Diego distilleries making hand sanitizer amid coronavirus pandemic

Posted: 3:50 PM, Mar 25, 2020
Updated: 2020-03-26 17:27:59-04
cutwater spirits hand sanitizer.jpeg

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Amid high demand for sanitizer, several San Diego distilleries are changing their production process to lend a hand.

Distillers like Oceanside's Pacific Coast Spirits, and Cutwater Spirits and Malahat Spirits in Miramar are changing their production output to sanitizer to help address the local shortage.

"This doesn't impact production too much as it is alcohol based and is similar to running any 'batch' of spirits," says Nicole Hammond, of Pacific Coast Spirits.

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The FDA has given approval for facilities able to produce alcohol-based sanitizer to do so, providing a recommended formula approved by the World Health Organization (WHO).

"It just takes hours on the still ... we can produce four big barrels daily," Hammond added. She says the distillery is working with local corporations to fulfill orders and, if demand becomes too great, could look to partner with other distilleries.

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Ken Lee, partner at Malahat Spirits, says the distillery is currently changing its production to create hand sanitizer and has already started to run test batches per WHO recommendations.

"We have already run some test batches per the specifications of the WHO and look forward to getting some out to our community soon to help out with our county’s current needs," Lee said. "The turnaround is relatively quick since we already make the alcohol in house."

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Next week, Cutwater Spirits will start donating their first batches of 80 percent alcohol sanitizer to non-profits within San Diego County, including at the San Diego Food Bank.

"In response to the COVID crisis, we are leveraging our production resources to make an ethanol and glycerin-based sanitizer that we will donate to local non-profits including the San Diego Food Bank, our Miramar neighbors," said Shreyas Balakrishnan, general manager of Cutwater Spirits.

Cutwater will also launch campaign supporting the food bank's virtual food drive next week.

Vista's Misadventure & Co. distillery has also switched production to make hand sanitizer, with plans to distribute nationally.

“Last week, our business in our Vista distillery and tasting room screeched to a halt. To survive we needed to change rapidly,” said Whit Rigali, co-founder of Misadventure Vodka. “Because of our still and industry expertise, we were uniquely positioned to pivot and adapt. To help meet the public’s need in this difficult time, within one week, we were able to produce alcohol for hand sanitizer, bottle it, build a retail website, and ship out over 20,000 bottles of sanitizer to both consumers and wholesalers."

The company is working to fill large orders from clinics, hospitals, veterans’ groups, and local governments.