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With Sanitizing-Solution Shortage, Liquor Distilleries Are Stepping Up and Making Their Own

Distilleries in Portland, Indianapolis, Durham, and beyond are creating hand cleaner with high alcohol proofs for their communities

A close up hands of hands using antiseptic in studio black background.
Hand sanitizer may be experiencing a shortage but some distilleries are pitching in with free non-FDA approved cleaners made using byproducts of the distilling process.
Brenna Houck is a Cities Manager for the Eater network. She previously edited Eater Detroit and reported for Eater. You can follow her on the internet at @brennahouck.

In addition to soap, water, and social distancing, sanitizing is key to fighting the spread of the novel coronavirus pandemic. But the nation is facing a shortage of supplies, spurring the FDA to allow facilities and licensed pharmacists to make their own sanitizer following a specific recipe. To help, some distilleries around the country are making and distributing their own hand-cleaning solutions.

Last week, Portland, Oregon-based restaurant and spirits maker Shine Distillery began using high-proof methyl alcohol byproducts from the distilling process and using it as a cleaner for drains and windows. As demand for sanitizer grew, the company saw an opportunity to distribute their cleaning solution to customers, according to Eater PDX.

Because the product isn’t inspected, it can’t legally be referred to as “hand sanitizer” and is not allowed to be sold for a profit. However, unlike the homemade Tito’s vodka sanitizer recipes, Shine’s cleaner is 80 percent alcohol — well above the 60 percent alcohol guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for an effective sanitizing agent.

Other distilleries around the country are now following Shine’s lead. Hotel Tango Distillery in Indianapolis is reportedly producing a 68 percent alcohol-based hand cleaner and looking for ways to donate the bottles to charities. Likewise, Durham Distillery in North Carolina is giving out high-proof, 95 percent alcohol sanitizing solution to people in the local hospitality industry.

The trend is even starting to expand around the world. As recently as March 14, Listoke Distillery in Louth, Ireland, was selling 250 milliliter bottles of 62 percent hand cleaner for 6 euros each.

As bars and restaurants around the world close for dine-in service, there will continue to be a need for strong cleaning products. Perhaps these high-alcohol distillate byproducts are one positive outcome of quarantine drinking.

North Portland’s Shine Distillery Is Giving Away House-Made, 80-Percent-Alcohol Hand ‘Cleaner’ [EPDX]
Tito’s Forced to Repeatedly Tell Customers They Can’t Use Vodka as Hand Sanitizer [E]
Sarah Krueger [h/t]
Hand Sanitizer Shortages Push FDA to Let Pharmacists Make It [Bloomberg]
All Coronavirus Coverage [E]