Whiskey Makers Turn to Hand Sanitizer in Pandemic

NEW YORK—To help people disinfect during the COVID-19 pandemic, Kings County Distillery is now selling hand sanitizer alongside their whiskey.

Companies in several industries across the nation are shifting their business models due to the global pandemic. And making hand sanitizer seemed like an obvious choice for the whiskey makers at the Brooklyn distillery.

“Keeping the factory going and keeping people employed, that’s a piece of it,” said owner Colin Spoelman in an interview with NTD News. “But, I think, more than anything else, it’s responding to the crisis and trying to do something positive, inspiring.”

Spoelman said about a third of his business was outlawed due to the state-wide shutdowns.

This should be a familiar story to anyone following the spread of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Virus, which has ravaged businesses across the United States.

The cocktail bar is empty, the tours have stopped, and there is no more liquor tasting. Spoelman said these were about a third of his business, and they are now gone.

As a result, like numerous companies across the nation, many of Spoelman’s employees were laid off.

A Hygienic Business Project

Initially, Spoelman said making hand sanitizer was a bit of a joke. But, as the situation worsened, that joke became a hygienic business project.

“I think I was actually not wanting to talk about it because it was seen as making fun of the situation,” he said. “But as the situation got more serious, and it became clear that this was something that people really needed, it was kind of an obvious thing that everyone on staff totally got on board with.”

hand sanitizer
Bottles of hand sanitizer next to bottles of whiskey produced by Kings County Distillery in New York, on April 1, 2020. (Don Tran/NTD News)

The distillery sells each bottle of hand sanitizer for a minimum of $1 to a $20 donation. The product is now flying out of faster than whiskey.

But their hand sanitizer looks a little more like liquor than a bottle of Purell—it smells and feels like it, too.

It’s also not cheap to make, said COO Gabby Gjonaj.

“Definitely not,” said Gjonaj in an interview with NTD News. “It’s really costly. I mean, to be made in New York City, we still have the salaries to pay everybody; our grains are really expensive, they come from New York, it’s organic; and then our malted barley come from Ireland.”

Luckily for them, their supportive buyers usually make at least $10 donations for their bottles, she said.

So far, the experiment is working out for Kings Count Distillery.

And amid the turmoil, Spoelman said he believes most businesses will be able to find a way to be helpful during the crisis.

“There are a number of ways in which most businesses can be helpful if they put their mind to it, and I just think when we all look back on this moment, it will be great to say we did what we could,” he said.