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Distillery Dumps The Rum To Make Hand Sanitizer for Wright-Patterson Air Force Base

Stillwrights usually makes bourbon, rum and moonshine, but right now, they're only producing hand sanitizer to help fight the coronavirus.
WYSO
Stillwrights usually makes bourbon, rum and moonshine, but right now, they're only producing hand sanitizer to help fight the coronavirus.

Ohio distilleries and breweries have been switching gears and producing hand sanitizer to help fight the Coronavirus outbreak. Stillwrights in Fairborn is producing hand sanitizer for Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

On March 15, Brad Measel got a call from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base

“They asked me not to divulge what group it is,” Measel says, “which made me feel like a secret agent.”

The base, which employs 30,000 people, had heard that some distilleries could turn their “waste product into hand sanitizer.”

Measel, a co-owner of Stillwrights, says FDA regulations made that illegal, and the run-off from his stills isn't enough to make the 5,000 bottles that Wright-Patt needed.

But the base said the situation was “critical” — and that the FDA would change its regulations. That made production possible, but only if Stillwrights was willing to sacrifice the rum they were making.

“So, that’s exactly what we did. We put that rum back in the still and started making 190 proof alcohol,” Measel says.

The distillery didn’t have 5,000 eight-ounce bottles to fill the order, but that didn’t matter to the buyer. More than anything else, they simply needed hand sanitizer at the base immediately.

“He was okay with six-ounce bottles, five-and-a-half ounce bottles, twelve ounce bottles... So, he got a mismatched shipment.” Measel says. “Most of the stuff was in honey bottles.”

Now, Stillwrights has the right bottles, and they’re running the stills 24 hours a day, pumping out hand sanitizer for the base, senior centers, and other clients on the frontlines of the pandemic.