Hopewell-based Sourland Mountain Spirits announced that it has shifted from producing award-winning, craft spirits to hand sanitizers for health care systems, first responders and local nonprofits to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Earlier this week, the distillery made its first delivery of more than 2,000 bottles to Capital Health Medical Center in Hopewell, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in Hamilton, Homefront NJ in Lawrenceville and the Quakerbridge Mall testing center.
“Within two weeks, our non-GMO, neutral grain went from helping people celebrate life to helping save it,” said Ray Disch, founder/CEO of Sourland Mountain Spirits (SMS). “I’ve been told that when life gives you lemons, you should make lemonade – but that doesn’t work nearly as well against COVID-19 as our 80% alcohol hand sanitizer.”
To make hand sanitizer, Disch’s team takes its organic neutral grain at 92% alcohol and distills it down to 80% alcohol, which surpasses the requirement to kill a virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. After that step, the local distillers add aloe and hydrogen peroxide and fill the bottle.
As part of SMS’s transition from crafted spirits to hand sanitizer, Disch got a helping hand from inside his home. His son, Sage, a NYC-based entrepreneur, joined full-time to work alongside the wonderful team at SMS to devise a procedure to safely produce and distribute the new product.
Initially, Ray plans to supply Sourland’s new hand sanitizer to health care systems and first responders. Once that demand is addressed, he plans on selling to primarily for-profit organizations in 8-oz and 64-oz bottles.
Before transforming into a small hand sanitizer factory, SMS made various specialty craft spirits, including bourdon, vodka and apply brandy. Its flagship Gin Reserve was named one of the Top 100 spirits of 2019, according to Wine Enthusiast.
Thankfully, the recent craft distillery boom—SMS produced its first bottle in 2017—has positioned the industry to help during a viral crisis.
Ray credits the American Craft Spirits Association for supporting its members in this potentially life-saving effort. He encourages health care organizations and first responders to reach out to distillers in their community producing hand sanitizers.
“Our group of distilleries in New Jersey are honored to be able to provide assistance in this time of need,” said John Granata, co-owner of Jersey Spirits Distilling Company in Fairfield and president of the New Jersey Craft Distillers Guild. “In record speed, our members have retooled their plants and sourced very scarce materials in a challenging supply chain to meet the overwhelming demands of hospitals, first responders and the military. All of us hope to be past this very soon and toast our front-line warriors.”
Here is list of New Jersey distillers that have started producing hand sanitizers to protect us from COVID-19:
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