It might be time to stock up on vodka and gin as Canberra distilleries join forces to focus on the production of hand sanitiser.
Underground Spirits have halted production of spirits and will co-ordinate the effort. Other distilleries to come on board are Unicorn Spirits, Big River, Canberra Distillery and Local Spirits. Capital Brewing Co is also involved, producing brewer's wash and leftover products which will be distilled into hand sanitiser.
Other Australian distilleries such as Archie Rose, Four Pillars Gin and Shane Warne's WA-based SevenZeroEight are taking similar action.
Effective hand sanitisers have an ethanol content of at least 60 per cent and with a surge in demand distillers around the nation are producing sanitiser for front-line medical staff.
Underground Spirits owner and head distiller Dr Toby Angstmann said the company was working with the ACT government to ensure medical staff in the ACT were serviced during this critical time.
"Our sanitiser will go to health carers who need it most including GPs, doctors, nurses, theatre staff, Emergency Services ACT and all health services," said Dr Angstmann, who has a background in medicine and chemistry.
Underground Spirits has already pushed out a significant quantity of sanitiser, more than 1000 litres and it is producing around the clock.
The sanitiser is being produced and sold at cost. They are working with other local businesses such as Bunnings who are assisting with supply of containers.
"At the moment, we cannot produce enough hand sanitiser fast enough to sell it to retail customers as well, and healthcare professionals are our priority at this time," he said.
"If we get to a point where we can sell to our customers, Canberrans will be the first to get their hands on it."
Underground Spirits chief executive officer Claudia Roughley said the manufacturing of spirits is on hiatus for as long as it takes for the emergency to pass, and thanked all their customers for their support.
"We are all really feeling for the hospitality industry in Canberra and across the country," she said.
"Folks are losing their jobs, businesses may shut down. We are doing what we can.
"People can still buy our vodka and gin from what stock we have available, but we ask everyone to be patient regarding queries around stock."
At present stock can still be purchased from each distillery's website and selected bottleshops.
And while I'm no expert, rather than wash your hands with gin, I suggest you drink it.
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