WILMINGTON — In the face of a rising public health and economic crisis, some businesses are beginning to make lemonade out of lemons, as the tortured phrase goes; in the case of End of Days Distillery, the owners are choosing to make sanitizer out of vodka.
Small bottles of the sanitizer solution, made by strengthening the distillery’s vodka, are available in the tasting room for a suggested $2-donation and free to all Wilmington-area healthcare workers.
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Oliver Earney, who runs the tasting room at the recently opened Castle Street distillery, said the idea came when they noticed a growing need for sanitizer in recent weeks as Covid-19 cases began to spread in the U.S. and in North Carolina (New Hanover County confirmed its first presumptive case early Wednesday evening). They also noticed the distillery was stocked with an excess supply of alcohol.
“A lot of people are out there looking for [sanitizer],” Earney said. “It’s something that can kill the virus, and washing hands and maintaining sanitation is so important. This is a way that we could really add something to the community.”
Head distiller Steve Tomori, who was cleaning out a 500-gallon still after making a batch of gin, said the sanitizer production process is simple.
“Our sanitizer is essentially the exact same as our vodka, proofed to 70 percent instead of 40 percent, and then we add some tea tree oil,” Tomori said, noting the oil helps dissuade people from drinking the solution.
The distillery began making the sanitizer — essentially ethanol cut to 70 percent ABV with the addition of reverse osmosis water — on Wednesday.
Because the bottles, each labeled “Hand Sanitizer – Hand Crafted for Your Hands,” are limited in supply, the distillery is asking people to bring their own sealed glass jars or No. 2 plastic containers (high-density polyethylene, found in milk jugs, juice bottles, shampoo bottles, etc.).
“We’re all preparing the best way we can for the impact of Covid-19 on our community,” owner Shane Faulkner said. “We are glad to be able to help businesses and individuals keep their homes and workplaces safe by making alcohol suitable for sanitizing hands and surfaces.”
Faulkner plans to produce more sanitizer as resources and regulations allow, according to a release.
Priority will be given to healthcare professionals and supplies are limited. At the time of pick-up, you may be asked to sign a waiver and be instructed on the proper usage of the sanitizer.
Those interested in picking up EOD sanitizer must call the distillery at (910) 399-1133 to set up an appointment to pick up the solution.
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