Local distillery joins movement to create much-needed hand sanitizer

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FREDERICK, Md (WDVM) — A Frederick distillery is using the same set of skills they use make to make spirits to manufacture a much-needed resource during the coronavirus pandemic.

McClintock Distilling is known in the community for their organic whiskey and gin, but production is now gearing up for a new product: hand sanitizer.

“We’re built up already to produce large-scales of ethyl alcohol, it’s not that difficult to move to hand sanitizer production,” explained co-founder of Maryland’s first organic distillery, Braeden Bumpers.

Equipment here is now running two distillations a day to create pure ethyl alcohol from a mix of wheat, rye and corn that normally flows to create their line of spirits.

The main difference is production now is reaching a higher proof.

“We’re just going to bring it out at about 10-to-15 percent higher than we normally would, get it as close to 90, 95 percent as we can and then from there it’s high enough proof to be used for hand sanitizer,” said manager with McClintock Distilling, Zac Kennedy.

Bumpers says production shifted after closing down their tasting room on Monday amid measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Bumpers says he’s heard about distilleries around the country, specifically the west coast, stepping up to produce the cleaning product. He came across a recipe by the World Health Organization that laid out the production process and figured staff could follow suit.

“As soon as we saw that and we saw that the WHO recommendations on what different businesses could do to help out during this time, it really clicked for us and we would love to be doing that,” Bumpers said.

Additional ingredients like hydrogen peroxide and vegetable glycerin need to make the hand sanitizer have been ordered.

Plans are distribute the final product to those that need it most.

“We’d like to get them in the hands of first responders, assisted living communities, retirement communities,” said Bumpers.

Bumpers says he’s working with the City of Frederick to expand distribution of the hand sanitizer to local homeless shelters and food banks.

The decision to switch gears and create the hand cleaning product was also made with the distillery’s employees in mind.

“This project kind of involves everybody,” Bumpers explained, “Keep them on, keep them paid, make sure they’re getting income.”

The distillery aims to have production of the hand sanitizer finished in a week.

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