Okanagan Spirits Distillery makes free hand sanitizer for the community - InfoNews

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Okanagan Spirits Distillery makes free hand sanitizer for the community

Okanagan Spirits Craft Distillery
Image Credit: FACEBOOK / Okanagan Spirits Craft Distillery
March 19, 2020 - 4:52 PM

The Okanagan Spirits Distillery in Kelowna has decided to give back to the community in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. They are using their still to make sanitizer, and they're distributing it for free to those in need.

"We’ve been supported immensely by the community over the last 20 years, and it’s just some weird, small way to give back," Tyler Dyck, CEO of Okanagan Spirits Distillery, said. 

They came up with the idea just over two weeks ago, Dyck said, as a way the business could help out during the pandemic.

The sanitizer is made from the first part of alcohol that comes off the still. This portion is non-drinkable methyl alcohol, and is typically collected and disposed of. 

“If you dilute it down a little bit from 96 per cent... down to around 70 per cent, then it can kill germs, viruses," he said. "We've been using that for the last almost 20 years in the distillery.”

Dyck hopes that they can help ease the demand for sanitizer in the community, and prevent further spread of the virus.

"We're in this unprecedented time where there is a total lack of sanitizers out there in an industrial level, at an institutional level and a personal level," he said. "Everybody is sold out." 

Their first priority is to distribute sanitizer to local institutions that are dealing with those who are most at risk, such as hospitals, First Responders, care homes and addiction treatment centres. The sanitizer will be delivered over the next few days.

Some small mister bottles are currently on back order, and once they arrive, Okanagan Spirits will be distributing sanitizer to the public. 

Producing and distributing this sanitizer is costing the distillery money in bottles and labels, but Dyck believes that giving it away for free is the right choice.

"I don't think this is a time to monetize off of personal health," he said. "People are pretty scared right now, so I think that would be the wrong thing to do." 

Anyone who ordered Okanagan Spirits alcohol online will get a free sanitizer with their purchase. People can also come to the distillery to pick up their bottle. 

"We’re going to be trying to limit it to one per person," explains Dyck. "We just want to make sure that someone doesn’t come in and just hoard it. That’s not really what this is about."

Plus, because the methyl alcohol only accounts for five per cent of each batch that goes through the still, there is a limited supply available. 

“We’re trying our best here, and we’re trying to focus on those most at risk first," said Dyck. "Hopefully people can be patient and understanding.”

To contact a reporter for this story, email Brie Welton or call (250) 819-3723 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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