Sask. distillery now brewing rubbing alcohol substitute for frontline health care workers

Smooth 42 Craft Distillery is typically known for its apple pie moonshine. But now it's brewing a rubbing alcohol substitute, which is being donated to healthcare and front line workers.

Rubbing alcohol substitute is available to organizations in Sask., across Canada: Smooth 42 co-owner

Known for its apple pie moonshine, the Smooth 42 Craft Distillery is now making rubbing alcohol to donate to healthcare and emergency organizations in Sask. and across Canada. (Smooth 42 Craft Distillery/Facebook)

A Saskatchewan-based distillery is doing what it can to lend a hand in the fight against COVID-19.

Sacha Elez, CEO and co-owner of Smooth 42 Craft Distillery — located in an old curling rink in Brownlee —  about 60 kilometres northwest of Moose Jaw, said his distillery is typically known for its apple pie moonshine. 

Two months ago Smooth 42 started selling "vodka without the water," or 330 millilitres of 90 per cent alcohol in a bottle, with a label that includes a scale, so customers could make their alcohol as strong as they'd like. 

It was a way to reduce the company's shipping costs and it gave the company access to equipment that allows them to handle and bottle and high-proof spirits. 

In Saskatoon, Lucky Bastard, which normally makes vodka and gin,  says it's in the process of producing hand sanitizer. 

"We have started production and distribution of hand sanitizer to First Responders," the distillery said in a Facebook post.

"We recognize there is a desperate demand but we wanted to provide sanitizer to those risking their own safety & don't have access to a hand washing station."

Elez said his distillery has re-purposed itself to bottle 70 per cent "emergency vodka" which can act as a substitute for rubbing alcohol. 

Bottles are being donated to people within the healthcare system and frontline workers in Saskatchewan and across the country.

"These people are out there, frontline workers, and they're at the highest risk and they're not getting the supplies they need and that's just not right," Elez told CBC Radio

"It doesn't make sense for us to be trying to sell apple pie moonshine at a time like this… we have the capacity and the means to help make a real difference with this pandemic, and that just takes priority."

Elez, who's been tracking the spread of COVID-19 for some time, said his wife is expected to give birth in two months.

He said seeing projections of the number of hospital beds that will be filled due to the coronavirus made him realize that he has to do everything he can to keep the healthcare system going. 

"This baby's coming in two months, whether we're ready or not," Elez said.

"I'm going to do whatever I can and spend as much money that I have to spend just to make sure that the healthcare community is able to function as they should."