Nfld. & Labrador

Newfoundland Distillery pumping out hand sanitizer for front-line workers

The Newfoundland Distillery Company in Clarke's Beach has put its spirits on the back burner in order to produce hand sanitizer for doctors, nurses and police officers.

Fighting Spirit produced in liquor bottles since typical sanitizer bottles are in high demand

Fighting Spirit is a hand sanitizer produced by the Newfoundland Distillery Company in Clarke's Beach. (RCMP Newfoundland and Labrador/Facebook)

The Newfoundland Distillery Company in Clarke's Beach has put its spirits on the back burner in order to produce hand sanitizer for doctors, nurses and police officers.

Peter Wilkins, co-founder of the distillery, says the decision was a no-brainer once they realized it was in their wheelhouse to produce a hand sanitizer with enough alcohol content to meet federal regulations.

"We don't want to take our eye off the spirits, but it seems to me now that the spirits are the labour of love while the hand sanitizer is the real work," he told CBC Radio's On The Go.

The first batch has been made and shipped to workers on the front line of the COVID-19 pandemic. It's packaged in a typical liquor bottle, as Wilkins said small plastic bottles are nearly impossible to find with such a high global demand for hand sanitizer.

"There aren't any to be had in North America," Wilkins said. "Since we're used to getting liquor bottles and understand their supply lines, we were able to get some of those."

Peter Wilkins, co-founder of the Newfoundland Distillery Company, pictured here in a 2017 interview, says the decision to produce hand sanitizer was a 'no-brainer.' (Heather Barrett/CBC)

The sanitizer is called Fighting Spirit, a name that came from Newfoundland Distillery Company's designers.

While there were some kinks to work out, Wilkins said it's not a creative process like making gin or rum.

"It's much easier to make hand sanitizer because you don't have to worry about the taste and you don't have to caress it in the same kind of way."

There are two types of hand sanitizer — those with alcohol, and those without. Alcohol is generally considered the better route for killing germs, with an alcohol content between 60 and 95 per cent required.

Fighting Spirit has an alcohol content of 75 per cent.

Wilkins said he's had offers from shops and distributors to get it out to the public, and he hopes to have it in stores in a couple weeks.

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