Distilleries around the country have committed to joining the fight against the spread of COVID 19, responding to the huge demand for alcohol-based hand sanitiser gel.

  • Diageo has announced a global production of over two million litres of grain neutral spirits, which will be supplied to healthcare companies and hand sanitiser producers.  Over 500,000 litres alone will be distilled and distributed in Ireland.
  • Galway’s Micil Distillery has paused production of its poitín to focus on hand sanitiser instead. The decision to do so was taken by Micil Distillery’s founder, Pádraic Ó Griallais, and bottles of the sanitiser will be distributed primarily to Galway-based charities and care facilities, as well as hospitals, medical centres, and local businesses. “This is not about profit for us, we’re hoping to sell the hand sanitiser as close to cost as reasonably possible, and donate it for free to those who can’t afford to pay,” said Pádraic.
  • At Dingle Distillery, Co. Kerry, the team is initially looking to produce up to 35,000 miniature bottles which will be offered firstly to local businesses in Dingle and Dingle peninsula as well as regular customers who have requested them. The distillery will ensure that local GPs will have hand sanitisers, and they hope to supply in bulk to the HSE in the coming weeks. The first batch will be available by the end of March and will be distributed in 100ml, 185ml and 250ml bottles.
  • The Connacht Whiskey Company in Ballina, Co. Mayo, is producing 6,000 units of 250ml bottles that will be available by late March. The company may increase production based on demand. The distribution will be local, with most being available from the distillery. The price is being looked at and the price will refelct production costs.
  • In Co. Louth, Listoke Distillery was the first distillery in Ireland that turned its hand to producing hand sanitiser. An initial run of 2,000 250ml bottles was mostly for friends and family however they quickly ended up being distributed throughout the wider community and were all gone within 24 hours. The distillery is currently producing over 2,000 litres which individuals can come in and pick up at the factory. Listoke is also donating as much as possible to charities including the Peter McVerrry Trust, Simon Community and Cope, as well as to local GPs and garda stations. The company isn’t making any profit from the sanitiser, instead is simply covering costs.
  • In West Cork, Clonakilty Distillery is creating sanitisers with an alcohol content of 63% ABV and is going into production immediately, with bottles and equipment in place. The first batch of 5,000 bottles will be ready by late March. It will be offered for free to local charities and the company will supply the rest at cost, at first to the local community.
  • Also in Cork, Irish Distillers has said that it is creating large scale quantities of alcohol for free to manufacture hand sanitiser gel, in partnership with Cork firm Mervue Laboratories which will provide it to the Health Service Executive.
  • In Leitrim, The Shed Distillery has announced it will shortly commence the distribution of emergency alcohol and surface cleaner across the region. It will supply alcohol to Ovelle Pharmaceuticals, which will create 12,500 bottles of hand sanitizer gel with this week’s batch.
  • Copeland in Donaghadee is planning to produce upwards of 30,000 litres in the coming weeks after an initial projection of 500 litres. They will be donating as much as possible evenly across services in need in the region. The team will deliver themselves and pickup at the distillery is also possible. They are working on costs for wholesale and retail while they continue to donate to the most vulnerable. Due to lack of hand sanitiser bottles, they will primarily be supplying refills.

A number of other distilleries and drinks producers across the country are also getting geared up to manufacture hand sanitiser gel, once they have complied with the necessary regulations and have sourced the other components.  Distilleries known to be manufacturing hand sanitiser include Mór Irish Gin, Moira in Co. Down, and Boatyard in Enniskillen.

Separately, Guinness Ireland has pledged €1.5m to support Irish bar staff and communities affected by COVID 19.

Patricia Callan, Director of Drinks Ireland, which represents drinks producers and suppliers around the country said: “At such an uncertain and challenging time, it’s encouraging to see the drinks industry doing what it can in the effort to tackle Covid-19. This fight will require Government, the health and public sector, industry and society all working together on a coordinated response. As an industry, we are committed to doing what we can to help out.”

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