Their tasting rooms are closed, but Rhode Island distillers are joining the fight against COVID-19 by repurposing distilled ethanol to produce hand sanitizer for those in need. They join a growing list of hundreds of distilleries in the United States that are now producing ethanol-based hand sanitizer to address shortages in medical offices and essential businesses during this public health crisis.

Grey Sail Brewing and South County Distillers

In a press release sent April 3rd, Grey Sail Brewing of Rhode Island announced the launch of a new venture, South County Distillers, along with the news that it will focus on production of hand sanitizer to help front-line workers protect against COVID-19.

According the the release, Owner Jennifer Brinton was planning to bring their newest venture online in March 2020, when COVID-19 hit Rhode Island. Rather than making vodka, bourbon and canned cocktails the distillery diverted all of its resources to make hand sanitizer.

“The vitality of our community depends on the health and safety of our neighbors,” Brinton said in a prepared statement. “We are all adapting to support each other during these difficult times; Grey Sail is doing the same. Hand sanitizer is disappearing off of shelves and almost impossible to order yet healthcare workers and those in our service industries still have to work. We want them to stay safe.”

Starting this month, South County Distillers will donate hundreds of 8oz bottles of hand sanitizer to local organizations working in high-touch industries or those that work with high-risk populations, such as R.I. Center Assisting Those in Need, local ambulance and fire companies, senior resident facilities and a host of other organizations.

As production expands, a small amount of hand sanitizer will be available at the brewery where customers can also order beer to-go, online or curbside.  Sanitizer at the brewery will be available with a suggested donation of $3 per bottle. Funds will support continued hand sanitizer production as the need dictates.

Newport Craft Brewing & Distilling Co.

According to a press release sent on April 2nd, the Newport Craft Brewing & Distilling Co. announced they are making as many 4 oz. bottles of hand sanitizer as possible: “Starting Monday, April 6th, we will be passing out two 4oz bottles per person, while supplies last, as well as donating larger quantities to those businesses and non-profits in need. As part of our community involvement and outreach, there will be no charge for this product as we would like to give back to the communities that have been supporting us over many years.”

Sons of Liberty

Last week, the South Kingstown-based distillery Sons of Liberty donated over 2,000 bottles and 105 gallons of sanitizer to Police, Fire, Rescue and First Responders in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. The distillery is currently taking orders for businesses in need. According to their application form, 1 gallon jugs cost $60+tax and a pack of (10) 4oz twist-top bottles is $40+tax. If your business is interested in ordering hand sanitizer, fill out and submit this form.

Industrious Spirit Company

Providence distillery Industrious Spirit Company, which just opened this year and usually makes structural vodka and gin, began manufacturing hand sanitizer last month. They’ve been giving it out free at their We Wish We Could Window. A limited supply is available each day – follow them on Instagram @iscospirts for daily updates.