Asbury Park Distilling Co.

NJ distilleries are making hand sanitizer to combat shortages as state fights coronavirus

Denatured ethanol, water, glycerol to avoid burns and hydrogen peroxide to keep the formula sterile.

It may not be the silky, scented hand sanitizer we’re used to, but it’s what distilleries across the state have been authorized to make to help combat the shortage of hand sanitizer.

The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau has loosened regulations on distilleries that usually make spirits for sipping, allowing them to produce alcohol for disinfecting. Hand sanitizer has been out of stock in stores and distribution centers across the country, leaving many without during the coronavirus outbreak.

Silk City Distillers in Clifton usually churns out only whiskey, rum, gin and vodka (all of which are still available for pickup at the distillery). But now it’s in the early stages of producing hand sanitizer.

“I just sent somebody down to pick up 3,000 bottles from a packaging supply store in South Jersey,” said owner James Bednar.

According to Bednar, “producing the alcohol is the easy part.” Procuring bottles and other ingredients will take a few days, he said, as will production. So far Silk City has no hand sanitizer to hand out, but it plans to produce several thousand bottles in the next week.

The CDC recommends using a hand sanitizer with 60% alcohol or more. The sanitizers made by distilleries will not be tested by any government agency before being distributed, but Bednar assures that the recipe, provided by the World Health Organization, is simple and easy to follow. He will be using pharmaceutical-grade alcohol and ingredients.

“It’s a process they recommend for people in Third World countries,” said Bednar. “It’s not all that different from what we’d do if we were making a spirit to drink. It’s just a few more ingredients.”

Silk City doesn’t yet have a clear plan on what it will do with the hand sanitizer once it’s made. The business may give it out to friends of the distillery who are in need, or to shelters. It may donate some to hospitals facing a shortage.

However, Bednar said, the business won’t be charging for any of it: “We’re doing it for the good karma value alone.”

Not the only NJ distillery making hand sanitizer

Asbury Park Distilling Co. is offering free personal-size bottles of its house-made hand cleanser to customers as it continues to sell spirits including vodka, gin and whiskey in Monmouth County.

The company is also providing the product to emergency service personnel, area hospitals and elderly, at-risk community members.

For more information on this initiative, go to the company’s Facebook page, Asbury Park Distilling is at 527 Lake Ave., Asbury Park, and is open from noon to 7 p.m.

Likewise, Train Wreck Distillery in Mount Holly, Burlington County, and Claremont Distilled Spirits in Fairfield, Essex County, are producing and giving away hand sanitizer.

Colts Neck Stillhouse in Colts Neck, Monmouth County, has hand sanitizer on the way, too — watch this space for details as they become available.

Cape May-based Nauti Spirits Distillery has partnered with Partners Pharmacy in Springfield to create its own hand sanitizer. Starting Tuesday, March 24, Nauti will provide personal-sized spray bottles to first responders and assisted living and skilled nursing centers for free, according to a news release, then will put the product on sale.

Sea Bright restaurant Drifthouse by David Burke, where Nauti’s rum, gin and vodka are the house spirits, will include a Nauti hand sanitizer bottle from subsequent batches in take-out orders as supplies last.

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