The companies are distributing their house-made hand sanitizers to first responders, hospitals, and local residents for free.

By Kelly Vaughan
March 23, 2020
Blackall Photography

Hand sanitizer is in high-demand right now due to concerns surrounding the spread of coronavirus. Well-known makers of hand sanitizer such as Purell have sold out in pharmacies, grocery stores, and online retailers. Earlier this month, New York governor Andrew Cuomo announced that the state is in the process of creating and distributing alcohol-based hand sanitizers to residents free of charge. Now, liquor distilleries across the country are doing their part to help combat the shortage of hand sanitizer.

Bendt Distilling Co. in Lewisville, Texas, recently halted production on their signature product, Bendt No. 5 American Blended Whiskey, in order to make hand sanitizers available for free for employees, customers, local law enforcement, first responders, Meals on Wheels volunteers, and other nearby businesses. "I know that things are scary right now, but just seeing the people that walk into the distillery and pick up a free bottle of hand cleaner, and the smile that it brings to them and the hope that you see on their faces is absolutely everything that we need to keep doing this," says co-owner Natasha DeHart. She developed a recipe for hand sanitizer that included 70% alcohol, which is diluted with water, xanthan gum, and essential oils.

Related: How to Wash Your Hands Properly, According to a Doctor

Bendt Distilling Co. isn't the only brand using their product for good during these tumultuous times. New York Distilling Company, which is based in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, are using their Navy Strength gin to create hand sanitizer in bulk. While their sanitizer is still in the development phase, the company hopes to provide hand sanitizer to local bars, restaurants, and retailers as a way to show support for their friends in the hospitality industry.

At Finger Lakes Distilling, which is located in Burdett, New York, local residents can bring in empty bottles to be filled with their house-made hand sanitizer. In nearby Rochester, New York, Black Button Distilling is distributing their own bulk-batch of sanitizer to local hospitals, doctor's offices, nursing homes, and homeless shelters. In the South, where whiskey and bourbon reign, two distilleries are helping to curb the nationwide shortage of hand sanitizer. Whiskey Ranch in Fort Worth, Texas, and Lexington Brewing & Distilling Co. in Lexington, Kentucky, are both producing hand sanitizer using their own alcohol supply for anyone in need.

Experts caution that hand sanitizer should not be used as a replacement for washing your hands with soap and water, but it is a good alternative when you're going to the grocery store, drugstore, or handling packages. "We just want everyone to stay healthy and we appreciate the community and we'll keep doing this as long as we can," says DeHart.

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