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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: 391099

Reported Deaths: 5161
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah60298839
Washington41981395
Marion39886506
Clackamas32773378
Lane30113355
Jackson24880360
Deschutes23557185
Umatilla15126180
Linn14637179
Douglas13375291
Josephine10148244
Yamhill9762143
Klamath9053146
Polk8212100
Benton609738
Malheur592487
Coos5664106
Columbia430455
Jefferson420266
Lincoln362152
Union338755
Crook334056
Wasco316146
Clatsop261835
Baker219833
Tillamook216645
Hood River213737
Morrow197525
Curry191939
Harney119933
Grant108515
Lake105416
Wallowa75713
Sherman1913
Gilliam1854
Wheeler1141
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 5083462

Reported Deaths: 74473
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles152713227166
San Diego4069274335
Riverside3876785358
San Bernardino3745435962
Orange3343985725
Sacramento1683542443
Kern1576621804
Fresno1567952254
Santa Clara1520891925
Alameda1251761504
San Joaquin1075591834
Ventura1040031190
Contra Costa1037721046
Stanislaus915481417
Tulare860871096
San Francisco56909669
San Mateo56320629
Monterey52488626
Solano47671357
Santa Barbara47293549
Merced45053667
Sonoma43168412
Placer42141470
Imperial38477773
Kings35206363
San Luis Obispo31476359
Madera26194311
Shasta26081451
Butte25455314
Santa Cruz22248224
Yolo21558257
Marin18465249
El Dorado18301166
Sutter14571186
Napa13420104
Yuba1076089
Tehama10275130
Humboldt10158119
Nevada10019105
Mendocino857197
Lassen796756
San Benito781578
Tuolumne773090
Lake7043110
Amador577366
Siskiyou474755
Glenn457436
Calaveras441588
Del Norte375542
Colusa325220
Inyo256646
Plumas19367
Mono18784
Mariposa160018
Trinity99717
Modoc7655
Unassigned3220
Sierra2180
Alpine1080
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