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A Distillery Switches to Manufacturing Hand Sanitizer

EMILY PISACRETA, HOST: As a way to alleviate the hand sanitizer shortage during the Covid-19 crisis, the FDA has issued new guidelines that now allow alcohol distilleries to help manufacture hand sanitizer. Cecily Mauran checked in with a distillery in Upstate New York to see how it has switched gears to stay afloat.

CECILY MAURAN, BYLINE: When Jason Barrett, the owner of Black Button Distillery heard Governor Cuomo’s call for businesses to close, he started thinking about the people on his payroll. And how he could keep them working. Making hand sanitizer seemed like a solution.

JASON BARRETT: We had a number of the ingredients and I knew we could get the rest. So we just dove right into it. And, and were able to produce our first production batch about three days later

MAURAN: Barrett says in a day Black Button typically makes about 1,000 bottles of liquor, and now they’re making 8,000 bottles of hand sanitizer a day. But Barrett’s team is getting requests for hundreds of thousands of bottles from hospitals.

BARRETT: As much as everybody is out there helping the the demand is just insane.

MAURAN: He doesn’t plan on staying in the hand sanitizer business…

BARRETT: If I hopefully cover this with, you know, an extra week's worth of payroll in the bank, so I can take care of all of them as we switch back to liquor, I'll consider that a win.

MAURAN: Barrett says he and his team are still trying to figure how to meet an overwhelming demand for their unexpected new product. Cecily Mauran, Columbia Radio News.

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