DRIPPING SPRINGS, Texas (KXAN) — As more Austin-area liquor distilleries are changing their business models during the coronavirus pandemic to produce hand sanitizer, KXAN’s finding out how they compare to commercial supplies.
“To say that we’ve pivoted our business plan is an understatement,” says Jami Biel, science and sustainability director at Treaty Oak Distilling in Dripping Springs.
They are one of the latest local companies to shift away from producing bottles of alcohol.
“It very quickly became obvious that the best way that we could support the employees that we’ve been able to keep on, while supporting the community at large, was to start making sanitizer,” Biel says.
The FDA is temporarily allowing distilleries like Treaty Oak to make hand sanitizers, but there are some rules, including:
- The product has to to contain at least 80% alcohol. Before the coronavirus pandemic, that number was at 60%.
- Producers also have to label their bottles.
- No other active or inactive ingredients can be added.
Biel says Treaty Oak meets the threshold and they’ve already got a list of recipients, too.
“What we would consider a tier one priority, so these are going to be, you know, H-E-B, post office, certainly NASA — some of these entities that are on our front lines,” she says.
And to meet those needs, next week Treaty Oak is shifting operations entirely.
“At that point, we’re a 100% hand sanitizer company. As long as there’s demand and it needs to be produced, we’re making it,” says Phillip Dormont, Treaty Oak product development director.
The company is set to make its first shipment of about 3,000 bottles to a distributor on Friday.
They’ll keep 500 bottles at their Dripping Springs location available for the public to purchase.
“The truth is, we’re bleeding and it’s the only way we can stay afloat and keep this family of ours still here,” Biel says.
She adds, “We’ve been self-starters, resilient, problem starters but rooted in community, so it’s all coming full circle.”
Other distillery-made hand sanitizers
KXAN reached out to other local companies who are now making hand sanitizer.
Desert Door Distillery in Driftwood says their product contains 80% alcohol.
Desert Door has already sent some to local agencies like the Travis County Sheriff’s Office.
Zilker Brewing Company says their hand sanitizer is 60% alcohol.
Tito’s Handmade Vodka has not yet replied to KXAN’s request.
The CDC recommends you only use hand sanitizer if you can’t wash your hands with soap and water.
That’s still the best way to avoid getting sick.
But if you have to use sanitizer, don’t skimp.
The CDC says it’s not as effective if you’re not using enough or if you wipe it off before it has dried.
Sanitizer is not as effective if your hands are dirty or greasy.