STONE Pine Distillery has become the first Bathurst distillery to swap gin production for hand sanitiser, offering the end product free to locals working at the coronavirus frontline .
Distiller Ian Glen said he had received a number of inquiries from Bathurst health professionals and businesses who had been unable to source sanitiser due to a recent rush sparked by COVID-19 concerns.
So with his regular business slowing dramatically due to the forced closure of bars and clubs across the state, Mr Glen distilled about 250 litres of the base spirit that would normally have become more bottles of his award-winning gin and instead mixed it with glycerol and hydrogen peroxide (donated by Devro) to produce a bulk supply of hand sanitiser.
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The alcohol used in the sanitiser would normally have attracted around $17,000 in spirit duty, but the Australian Taxation Office - at the urging of the Australian Distillers Association - had previously agreed to waive those fees for the production of hand sanitiser.
Mr Glen now wants to hear from medical professionals and emergency service organisations who are having trouble sourcing sanitiser.
"We feel that we don't want to profit out of this, it's a case of wanting to help the local community," Mr Glen said.
"We will try to provide what we can, just in bulk so people can refill their existing dispensers because we don't have the proper packaging.
"At the moment we are contacting what we see as the high need people, the frontline people like the medical practices, police, the ambulance service [and] aged care homes.
"We will try and help out who we can but we don't have an unlimited supply."
Mr Glen said there had already been a positive reaction from organisations he has approached offering the sanitiser.
"They're just grateful because there are people who have genuinely been told by their suppliers that they haven't got any for six weeks," he said.
"We just figure we can try and plug that gap in supply because I think supply will come back on stream in the next few weeks. And from my point of view I'm not doing much else so it's nice to have something to do."
Local groups and organisations trying to source hand sanitiser can contact Stone Pine Distillery at www.stonepinedistillery.com.au. They will meet as many requests as they can.