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Spirits Industry Steps Up to Fight COVID-19

April 5, 2020 – A couple of nights ago, a TV commentator scolded the liquor industry for not stepping up to help ameliorate the hand sanitizer shortage.  Truth is, spirits, beer and wine companies are rushing to retool their plants to produce required 60 to 80 percent alcohol, and working with local manufacturers to get the product free of charge to first responders, hospitals, police and firefighters, warehouse workers, delivery drivers and others in need of protection.  In many cases, distillers are producing and bottling finished hand sanitizer

Besides answering the call for hand sanitizer, distilleries large and small are donating money to non-profit organizations helping bartenders and hospitality industry workers survive the shutdown. 

Here are some of their good works:


Campari America announced a donation of $1 million to Another Round, Another Rally, a non-profit that raises emergency funds for hospitality workers to support bartenders who are facing economic hardship due to the COVID-19 emergency. Along with the donation, Campari America is calling on bar patrons across the country to support their local bars by joining in the movement via the #AnotherRoundChallenge

Bar patrons can “tip their servers” by donating to Another Round, Another Rally’s virtual tip jar, and then challenge friends on Instagram to do the same using the hashtag.

Campari America brands, including Wild Turkey Bourbon, Appleton Estate Jamaica Rum, Espolon Tequila, SKYY Vodka, Aperol, Bulldog Gin, Grand Marnier, Cabo Wabo Tequila and Campari, posted the call to action on their social channels to promote the cause and rally support. 

The Wild Turkey team in Kentucky is also working with local government officials to donate 25,000 liters of neutral grain spirit for sanitizer that will be distributed to workers performing essential services, with a priority for those in health and primary care.


Since publishing Bacardi Helps Produce Hand Sanitizer for Puerto Rico, Bacardi has diverted global production to increase hand sanitizer supply for local communities.  Facilities in the USA, Mexico, France, England, Italy and Scotland will provide the alcohol component of 267,000 gallon (1.1 million liters) of hand sanitizer. Bacardi is also playing a part in donating the finished product to local organizations and emergency responders, as well as its employees and contractors.

In the United States, Bacardi Bottling Corporation in Jacksonville is planning to help produce approximately 23,000 gallons of alcohol to make 120,000 units of 25-ounce (750 ml) bottles hand sanitizer for donation to local hospitals, firefighters and police.

At the Louisville, KY Angel’s Envy Kentucky Straight Bourbon plant, nearly 1,000 gallons of alcohol will create approximately 16,000 8-ounce bottles of free hand sanitizer for first responders and healthcare professionals.

Bacardi Limited has also committed $3 million to support the bar and restaurant industry.  This is in addition to $1 million pledged by its brand Patron Tequila.  Some of the non-profits receiving Bacardi support are Another Round, Another Rally; CORE; the James Beard Foundation; Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation; and Tales of the Cocktail.


After warning customers not to use their vodka for hand sanitizer, Tito’s Vodka of Austin, TX is geared up to produce 24 tons of hand sanitizer.  A fan of Tito’s posted on Twitter that they had made hand sanitizer using the vodka but sanitizer must contain at least 60% alcohol to be effective according to the CDC.  Tito’s is 40% alcohol.  In addition to hand sanitizer, which the company is already delivering to first responders, Tito’s has donated $2 million to organizations such as CORE, USBG, Southern Smoke, and World Central Kitchen that support food and beverage service employees, their children, farmers, delivery drivers, small business owners and suppliers.  A further $1 million will be donated as need arises.



Hood River Distillers of Oregon have stepped up to the plate producing 5,000 gallons of hand sanitizer at their Clear Creek Distillery which equates to over 50,000 375-ml bottles of high-quality 80% alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

Over the next several weeks, they will be producing an additional 7,000 gallons and in cooperation with the Oregon Health  Authority, this hand sanitizer will be distributed throughout Oregon to those on the front lines of the healthcare and food service industries. Manufacture of this critical product will continue as long as needed.  We’ve written about some of Hood River Distillers’ products including  Easy Rider Bourbon, Lucid Absinthe, McCarthy’s Oregon Single Malt Whiskey, Trail’s End Whiskey and Yazi Ginger Vodka.



William Grant and Sons, famous for brands such as Glenfiddich, The Balvenie, Hendrick’s Gin, Sailor Jerry, Tullamore D.E.W. Irish Whiskey, Monkey Shoulder and Drambuie is shifting production at three of its distilleries to supply about five million liters of much needed ethanol over the next eight weeks for hand sanitizer that will be used around the world in the fight against coronavirus.  Their distillery in Tuthilltown, NY will produce, package and distribute FDA approved hand sanitizer that will be distributed to local health care providers.

Profits from the sale of ethanol to hand sanitizer manufacturers will be committed by the company to alleviating the spread and impact of the virus.



Molson Coors, maker of Coors Beeris using their craft brewery locations to produce hand sanitizer.  Coors has donated $1 million to USBG and is providing meals to non-profits, their distributor partners and employees.



We know that KO Distillery in Manassas, Virginia is retooling the distillery to switch from craft spirits to hand sanitizer.  In a nod to their Bare Knuckles line of small batch, aged whiskies Bare Knuckles Hand Sanitizer will be available soon.


Another Virginia craft distiller, Vitae Spirits in Charlottesville, makes about six gallons of 80% alcohol hand sanitizer every Friday from waste alcohol.   This is donated to front line non-profit organizations directly helping mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic emergency.  Its founder, Ian Glomski, is a former Professor of Microbiology at the University of Virginia School of Medicine and an infectious disease specialist so this is right in his wheelhouse, as the saying goes.


Sazerac Company in Louisville, KY has switched all its distilleries in Kentucky and Indiana from making spirits to hand sanitizer. Among the facilities making the switch are Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort, Kentucky; Northwest Ordinance Distilling in New Albany, Indiana; and Barton 1792 Distillery in Bardstown, Kentucky.  The hand sanitizer will be given to healthcare, government, military, pharmacy, retail, airline and banking organizations.


There are many, many more alcohol beverage producers across the country who are donating resources, product, money and time to help not only first responders but workers in the food and beverage service industry which has been devastated by this pandemic.   You, too, can help by donating to recognized non-profits such as: