Victoria Distillers begins producing free hand sanitizer during COVID-19 crisis

This company based in Sidney, B.C. is turning their distilling byproduct into something highly useful

As one of Canada's premier distilleries, Victoria Distillers is stepping in to do some good when our country is in severe crisis.

Peter Hunt, president and master distiller of the company, recently approached Sasha Prior, co-founder of Nezza Naturals, to collaborate and produce hand sanitizer to be provided for free to people working in "essential services". The hand sanitizer is made using a byproduct from the distillation of Hunt's most popular spirit, the Empress 1908 gin.

“After each Empress 1908 distillation, we have leftover alcohol byproduct, and with a hand sanitizer shortage, we thought, now more than ever, it is important to put it to good use," explains Hunt in an announcement from Victoria Distillers. "We are taking that alcohol byproduct, which is about 90 per cent ABV, and blending it with water, [Nezza Naturals sweet essential oil] and vegetable glycerin to create a hand-sanitizing spray that is 70 per cent alcohol."

The sanitizer can be requested by email and can either be picked up at Nezza Naturals or delivered to individuals whose jobs are considered to be essential services, such as people working in hospitals, medical and dental clinics, firefighters, police officers and first responders, as well as places like food banks, daycares and grocery store staff.

He goes on to explain that the initial demand has been overwhelming and that with the COVID-19 crisis showing no signs of slowing down, his distillery plans to continue to produce the sanitizer. Currently, they have enough distilling byproduct to produce up to 5,000 60-mL spray bottles and have the ability to produce an average of 1,000 bottles a day, but are also in need of finding a spritz bottle supplier who can keep up with demand as their supplier is now out-of-stock.

For now, the hand sanitizer produced will be provided to residents in the greater Victoria area, but a representative from Victoria Distillers says they hope to be able to send out the sanitizer to communities off Vancouver Island if and when their production allows.

Dillon's Small Batch Distillers in Niagara has also been on the same wavelength and, as of this morning, will have distributed 3,000 bottles of their distillery-made sanitizer to many front-line people as well as a the city of Hamilton.