10th Mountain Whiskey jumps in to help hand sanitizer shortage
Product isn't ready yet, but local distillery will be offering it free of charge
GYPSUM — The folks at 10th Mountain Whiskey and Spirits want to do everything they can to help their neighbors during these troubled COVID-19 days.
And as things turn out, they are in a unique position to lend a practical helping hand. Or, at least, they soon will be in that position.
The local distillery has begun crafting hand sanitizer using a byproduct of the distillation process. They have placed an order for 700 bottles to hold the sanitizer and plan to distribute the product, free of charge, as soon as the bottles arrive.
Shawn Hogan of 10th Mountain explained that in the process of crafting spirits, the first material out of the still is called the head and it is not used in whiskey, rye, vodka or any of the other distillery products.
“We use it as a cleaner,” said Hogan.
But last Friday, as a buying frenzy hit the valley and hand sanitizer became a hot commodity, 10th Mountain Whiskey and Spirits owner Ryan Thompson sent Hogan an article about Shine Distillery in Oregon. That facility had started making hand sanitizer using its byproduct alcohol.
Hogan called the Oregon facility and to find out what they were doing. He quickly determined 10th Mountain could easily craft the same product.
Just as he was looking into the Shine hand sanitizer, Hogan got a call from Jan Miller from Eagle County. Miller has been working at the Eagle County Emergency Operations Center and she was on the hunt for hand sanitizer. She saw the same article about Shine Distillery and called the Oregon whiskey maker.
“The woman at Shine said they weren’t licensed to sell or ship sanitizer, but if I reached out to a local distiller, she would share the recipe,” Miller said.
Her next call was to 10th Mountain, where she learned that the local company was already researching hand sanitizer production. She also learned that 10th Mountain couldn’t distribute product until it had something to put it in.
As an interim solution, Miller scrounged the valley for empty bottles on Sunday and 10th Mountain was able to fill about 75 containers. Miller brought them back to the county, where they were distributed to people on site who continue working with the public during the COVID-19 response. Miller also reached out to health care and emergency agencies to see if they could augment their sanitizer supplies.
Not available in stores
The 10th Mountain sanitizer is not yet available to the public, Hogan stressed.
“Right now, we can’t have people coming in here asking us to fill five-gallon bottles. That just isn’t going to work,” Hogan said.
In the meantime what will work, and will actually work more effectively, is to wash your hands with soap and water. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says washing with soap and water is the best way to clean your hands. But when regular hand-washing is not an option, the agency recommends using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. The 10th Mountain Whiskey product is between 60% and 65% alcohol.
Just as anyone on the sanitizer hunt, Hogan is anxious to get the product to the people who need it.
“This is something we can do, for free, to help out everybody,” he said. “This is just our way to give back. There is so much going on right now.”
When the 10th Mountain product is ready, Hogan promised he will let locals know.