These Midwest distilleries know how to make magic with ethanol. For years, they’ve whipped up award-winning whiskey, mulled over moonshine and bottled some of the best bourbon around, but when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the region, they used their expertise for a greater purpose. By adapting production lines and repurposing supplies, they were able to make and distribute the most essential form of alcohol at the time: hand sanitizer.
Missouri Ridge Distillery
In response to the COVID-19 crisis, Missouri Ridge Distillery in Branson, Missouri, started making more hand sanitizer than moonshine. With the help of Show Me Ethanol, a dry-mill ethanol production facility located in Carrollton, Missouri, it’s produced more than 52,000 gallons of hand sanitizer for parts of Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas. The ethanol-based product is available at retailers in Branson, or customers can bring their own containers to be filled at the distillery. missouriridgedistillery.com
J. Rieger & Co.
Foresight and ingenuity has kept the 65-person team at J. Rieger & Co. employed during the pandemic. In mid-March, the lauded Kansas City distillery launched Rieger’s Remedy, an FDA-approved liquid hand sanitizer. It began churning out 6.6-ounce bottles and 2-liter jugs, both of which sold out immediately. Fortunately, they’re back in stock and available at more than 40 retailers throughout Missouri and Kansas as well as online. jriegerco.com
After receiving a call from the Columbia Police Department, DogMaster Distillery – known for its dark rum and whiskeys – researched how to make hand sanitizer, which co-owner and director of distillery operations Dan Batliner says isn’t complicated. Once the team got started, it took approximately five minutes to create an entire batch. The first 300 bottles went to the local police department and the Boone County Health Department, and the distillery promises it will continue to make, bottle, distribute and donate its ethanol-based hand sanitizer as long as it can access the raw materials. dogmasterdistillery.com
Stumpy’s Spirits Co.
Stumpy’s Spirits Co. in Columbia, Illinois, is on a mission to keep the community in high spirits despite the circumstances. Converting its grain-to-glass family farm and distillery into a production facility for hand sanitizer, it originally sold 750-milliliter bottles at retailers across Missouri and Illinois. Now, its low-odor hand sanitizer – made with premium ethanol, not fuel-grade ethanol – is available in 55-gallon drums in liquid and gel form. stumpysspirits.com
Holladay Distillery is lending a helping hand to the Weston, Missouri, community. The distillery has temporarily paused bourbon production to focus on sanitizer in an effort to combat the shortage and keep customers healthy. True to its name, Helping Hands, Holladay’s FDA-approved hand sanitizer, has a built-in social benefit: Consumer sales of the 200-milliliter bottles (five for $10) fund the continued production of 1¾-liter bottles, which the distillery donates to first responders, local health care facilities and polling places. holladaydistillery.com