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.

Confirmed Cases: 4243

Reported Deaths: 153
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Multnomah116559
Marion96025
Washington73917
Clackamas31211
Deschutes1250
Umatilla1163
Linn1159
Polk9812
Lane733
Yamhill707
Jackson660
Benton555
Clatsop450
Klamath440
Jefferson330
Malheur320
Coos310
Douglas270
Wasco241
Josephine231
Hood River180
Columbia160
Lincoln120
Morrow110
Curry70
Union60
Tillamook60
Crook60
Wallowa20
Lake20
Sherman10
Harney10
Grant10
Baker10
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 111951

Reported Deaths: 4172
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Los Angeles550012362
Riverside7486323
San Diego7481269
Orange6261147
San Bernardino5246204
Alameda339096
Santa Clara2776141
San Francisco258842
Kern225038
San Mateo210484
Tulare184484
Fresno174335
Santa Barbara164912
Imperial163427
Contra Costa145037
Sacramento140056
Ventura107833
San Joaquin85834
Kings7464
Stanislaus74429
Sonoma5534
Monterey53010
Solano51722
Marin48314
Merced2837
San Luis Obispo2691
Placer2159
Santa Cruz2132
Yolo21124
Napa1123
Madera1062
Humboldt1013
El Dorado900
San Benito872
Sutter462
Del Norte450
Butte440
Nevada411
Shasta394
Mono371
Mendocino300
Yuba301
Lake210
Inyo201
Amador190
Mariposa161
Glenn160
Calaveras150
Siskiyou70
Colusa50
Lassen50
Tuolumne40
Plumas40
Tehama41
Alpine20
Trinity10
Sierra10
Unassigned00
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