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Local distilleries pivot to making hand sanitizer during coronavirus pandemic

Following a national trend spurred by encouragement from the federal government, several distilleries in Northern California and southern Oregon are beginning to produce hand sanitizer.

Posted: Mar 24, 2020 3:06 PM
Updated: Mar 24, 2020 5:51 PM

ETNA, Calif. — In the small Siskiyou County community of Etna, a craft distillery is turning its talent for making spirits toward a new goal — the production of hand sanitizer.

The founders of Denny Bar Company bought up an 1880s-era brick building in Etna a few years ago — the former home of a long-defunct Denny Bar Company from which the distillery later took its name. The owners pride themselves in producing artisanal spirits and food at the historic building these days.

Last week, as California went on a stay-at-home order due to the growing threat of coronavirus, Denny Bar Company joined a movement of distilleries around the country to start making hand sanitizer instead.

"We’ve been hearing throughout the industry that other distilleries that have the same kind of capabilities that we do just really stepped up, and we wanted to make sure we were doing the same in our communities in local areas," said co-owner Sparrow Tang.

The company put its equipment toward making high-proof ethyl alcohol for use in hand sanitizer, giving its first batch of 400 two-ounce bottles away to members of the local community on Friday. They've since run out of that initial batch.

"We are handing it out in the community and just trying [to get it to] anybody that basically walks in our door, we’re handing it out to them on a case-by-case and need basis," said Tang.

Now, according to marketing manager Lance Banks, they're waiting for a shipment of bulk materials to start scaling up their operations — with the goal of producing enough for local and regional hospitals, medical professionals, first responders, law enforcement, and shipping carriers.

"So Oregon and Northern California . . . their resources are very thin as everybody is aware, so we’re doing our part to ramp that up," said Tang. "We’re actually making making ethanol right now . . . and we’re right now, production wise, hoping to be able to kind of do about 50 gallons of ethanol a day."

Denny Bar hopes to have one-gallon and five-gallon bottles of hand sanitizer available by the end of March or the beginning of April.

Meanwhile, Double Taps in Grants Pass says that it has also received the go-ahead from the federal government to begin making hand sanitizer through its Crescendo Spirits distillery. The tap room said that it would begin selling it soon at the Grants Pass location.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 79293

Reported Deaths: 973
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah18432251
Washington11175104
Marion9745153
Clackamas684183
Lane458650
Umatilla450250
Jackson402838
Deschutes255815
Malheur247245
Yamhill181817
Linn164124
Polk134319
Douglas99819
Klamath9475
Jefferson87811
Benton8557
Union8158
Morrow6757
Lincoln67015
Josephine5795
Wasco55419
Columbia5444
Coos4583
Hood River4343
Clatsop3820
Baker3014
Crook2486
Curry1532
Tillamook1480
Lake1451
Grant1391
Harney1051
Wallowa723
Gilliam230
Sherman230
Wheeler60
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1286550

Reported Deaths: 19553
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles4218817782
San Bernardino991041154
Riverside900891457
San Diego861421040
Orange816531586
Kern42937451
Sacramento39367591
Fresno39324488
Santa Clara36673495
Alameda30980522
San Joaquin26784519
Contra Costa25264261
Stanislaus22876433
Tulare21789314
Ventura21208185
Imperial16507358
Monterey16064124
San Francisco16058161
San Mateo15040170
Sonoma12795160
Merced12427185
Santa Barbara11720138
Kings1155589
Solano1111981
Marin7873129
Placer694172
Madera648290
San Luis Obispo637838
Shasta536552
Yolo506881
Santa Cruz476633
Butte424460
Sutter373319
Napa329818
El Dorado26384
Yuba231011
Lassen22203
San Benito200717
Tehama180026
Mendocino165723
Nevada145510
Tuolumne112811
Glenn99611
Humboldt9939
Lake97221
Colusa7566
Siskiyou7524
Amador74016
Mono5773
Calaveras55322
Del Norte3841
Inyo31416
Plumas2390
Trinity1700
Modoc1620
Mariposa1483
Alpine520
Sierra230
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