Denison distillery donating alcohol to hospital for hand sanitizer

Published: Mar. 20, 2020 at 5:14 PM CDT
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Distilleries across the country are using their resources to contribute to the hand sanitizer shortage. A Denison distillery is using theirs for local health care workers.

Ironroot Republic Distillery is making high-proof alcohol to donate to a local hospital.

Just this week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved beverage alcohol to be temporarily used for hand sanitizer during the public health emergency.

"We're trying to do what we can do," said head distiller and co-owner Jonathan Likarish.

Life can change on a dime.

And at Ironroot Distillery, they're rolling with the punches.

"A month and a half ago we were busy. We were in New York, we had just won World's Best Bourbon, and now we're taking that bourbon and we're turning it into high-proof for hand sanitizer," Likarish said.

That's because it's running out.

Likarish said a local hospital reached out to them in need.

So they took their latest batch of bourbon, which usually is run through a still twice.

"In this case, we have to send it over to a special vodka still to get that proof up really high," he said. "It has to be strong to be something that can actually kill a virus."

The CDC recommends using hand sanitizer containing at least 60 percent alcohol.

To put it in perspective, he said that's equivalent to 120 proof whiskey.

But the FDA requires World Health Organization guidelines, which suggest 80 percent.

"Then it has to be combined with a few other ingredients in order for it to become hand sanitizer, but most of the local hospitals have that on hand already," Likarish said.

They're donating 55 gallons to start off, which he said costs a couple thousand dollars.

If they made that into whiskey, it's $30 to $40 thousand worth of alcohol.

But he said more grain is on the way.

"We're going to kind of figure out how fast they're going to go through it and then we'll make it as needed," he said.

He said they're excited to play a role on the sidelines, and take care of those who take care of us.

"But now we're able to give the people on the frontlines some form of protection," Likarish said.

In the meantime, Ironroot Distillery will keep making whiskey.

They're still doing bottle sales and limiting tours to eight people.