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During bar shutdown, Karrikin Spirits trades alcohol production for hand sanitizer

Posted at 10:00 PM, Mar 21, 2020

A local distillery is converting some of its production from drinkable alcohol to hand sanitizer in the hopes of creating new revenue amid the bar and restaurant shutdown.

As public health officials continue to work to slow the spread of COVID-19, health experts stress the importance of regular hand-washing and use of hand sanitizer. Since soap and hand sanitizer have become scarce at local stores, Karrikin Spirits in Fairfax is hoping to convert production to help fill a community need.

"It's crazy. Overnight we're all of a sudden a new company," said Eric Baumann, owner of Karrikan Spirits Company. "We go from Karrikin Spirits Company to Karrikin Hand Sanitizer Company. We've been just trying to formulate all that."

He said the process is a lot like making vodka, but instead of cocktails, the alcohol will convert into a hand sanitizer that meets World Health Organization guidelines. It will be 80% alcohol, and Karrikin will be able to make about 12,000 four-ounce spray bottles weekly when production is in full swing. The company hopes sales from the new product will be enough to keep them operating while they take a hit to their bar services during the shutdown.

"What we'd ask alongside you supporting us and supporting this hand sanitizer product we're putting out," said Matt Groves, storyteller at Karrikin Spirits Co. "Support the local businesses around you. Support the mom and pop pizza place down the street. Support your local brewery, your local distillery."

The plan, the company said, is to offer drive-up sales in the parking lot and, of course, people who come to buy hand sanitizer can also purchase beer or liquor to take home. Part of the sales will also help the workers Karrikin Spirits had to lay off, they said.

Health care workers, first responders and others working on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic will be the first priority for hand sanitizer sales, the company said. They expect to have the first batch of hand sanitizer ready by Thursday, but they plan to update on social media.