Inside Litchfield Distillery are tanks and barrels normally used to create consumable alcohol - vodka, gin and bourbon. But for the time being, the owners there have dedicated their services to helping the public and are now creating hand sanitizer.
Jack Baker is co-owner of Litchfield Distillery, which has become one of several liquor manufacturers around the country trying to help fill the sanitizer void. They’re producing gallons of liquid sanitizer and providing it free to those who need it most.
“We’re not selling it,” explained Baker. “We know there’s people in need. Everybody’s under stress financially so at this point we can afford to give it away.”
Steadily, people have stopped by today, picking up complimentary bottles. They've already given away nearly 1,000 bottles.
“We don’t really have any at the church,” said Janet Hauer, with The First Congregational Church of Litchfield. “We’re still open for services so I’m glad to have it.”
There has been a hand sanitizer shortage for weeks. To accommodate the demand, the distillery has suspended normal operations to focus exclusively on hand sanitizer.
“We realized there was a public need for it so we tried to transitioned into higher volumes of the high-proof alcohol that can be used for these purposes,” explained Baker.
The process is similar to creating liquor. Grains are first cooked in tanks. Then they’re sent to fermenting stations, before being moved to a still. There the alcohol is distilled to 160-proof before being turned into hand sanitizer.
The product is been well received by the community. Assisted living centers, churches, first responders and people in high-risk categories have become the focus.
“We’re trying to supply this on an as-need basis to the people that are most in need,” said Baker.
Although Litchfield Distillery has suspended production of consumable alcohol, production continues. Baker says the distillery has added a second shift of workers to keep up with the demand.
People who spoke with NBC Connecticut were grateful, thankful for a company putting people over profit
“I’m just thankful for people stepping up and doing this kind of great thing and helping one another,” said Leeann Sklar, one of dozens of people who were able to benefit.
By mid-afternoon Thursday, the distillery still had product available but was short on containers. They ask anyone with their own containers to please save and bring them when they arrive for pick up.