As the battles the COVID-19 pandemic, Michigan distilleries are ramping up production of a new type of product. Thanks to temporarily relaxed rules, the state’s licensed distilleries can now produce ethanol-based hand sanitizers to meet the demands of hospitals, health care organizations, first responders and government workers. Normally, distillers would need an industrial manufacturing permit to produce denatured alcohol, but under the new Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau’s regulations (effective through June 30), this permit is not required.
In response to these relaxed regulations, Michigan’s spirit makers have stepped up to the plate, switching gears from spirits to sanitizers to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Check out what a few distilleries across the state are doing to lend a hand in these unprecedented times.
Located in Lansing, Michigrain Distillery is well known for its famous Michigan potato vodka made using the leftover potato starch from Detroit-based snack company Better Made Snackfoods. But these days, the distillery is using its state-of-the-art manufacturing facility and all those Michigan-grown potatoes to create its own hand sanitizer.
The company is currently producing about 500 gallons of sanitizer per week, or about 40,000 4-ounce bottles. This impressive production is not only helping to meet the demand for sanitizers amid shortages but is also allowing the distillery to keep its employees and stay in business, a big win all around.
Ugly Dog Distillery
Based in downtown Chelsea, Ugly Dog Distillery is one of the oldest distilleries in the United States. The company normally produces award-winning spirits made from Michigan-grown products, including their vodka made from Michigan winter wheat. In response to the recent need for hand sanitizer, however, Ugly Dog is utilizing all its resources to produce 8-ounce bottles of hand sanitizer made from an FDA-approved formula of ethyl alcohol, hydrogen peroxide and vegetable glycerin. The distillery is donating these free bottles of sanitizer to anyone in the community who needs them, including hospitals, senior living facilities and local businesses.
See more: Michigan Wheat Fields of Gold
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Detroit City Distillery
Though Detroit City Distillery usually focuses on small-batch artisanal whiskey, gin and vodka made with ingredients sourced from local farms, it’s putting spirits on hold for the moment, turning instead to hand sanitizer production. The company has adapted its manufacturing facility to produce hand sanitizer meeting WHO specifications for those on the front line. As of March 25, the distillery sent a total of over 1,700 gallons of sanitizer to hospitals, nursing homes, homeless shelters, police and fire departments, youth shelters, postal workers, utility workers, ambulance networks and nonprofits.
With locations in Central Lake, Bellaire and Traverse City, Mammoth Distilling produces a wide array of spirits from whiskey and bourbon to gin, vodka, rye and rum. And now the distillery is turning its high-proof spirits into sanitizer to give away for free to the public. Every day from noon to 7 p.m., guests to the Traverse City and Bellaire tasting rooms can fill up reasonably sized containers with hand sanitizer to ensure there is enough to go around (with five customers allowed inside at a time). The distillery is also producing 1-gallon jugs of sanitizer available for customers to purchase.
Ann Arbor Distilling Company
Ann Arbor Distilling Company is another Michigan distillery stepping up to help fight coronavirus shortages. The company is making its house-distilled sanitizer from a neutral spirit made from locally grown corn. They mix it with aloe gel, water and vegetable glycerin and package it in 2-ounce spray bottles. Ann Arbor Distilling Company has been giving these bottles away for free and inviting guests to bring their own containers to fill.
How are local businesses in your community coming together to do good? Let us know in the comments below.