The Better Man Distilling Co. in Patchogue is switching their normal operations of producing gin and vodka to producing hand sanitizer, due to shortages experienced in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are in a very unique position as a distillery to be able to do this,” Abby Gruppuso, head of operations, told the Advance Wednesday.
In March, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau released a guidance allowing temporary production of ethanol-based sanitizers by distilleries across the country. The move was in response to the public health emergency which has caused shortages of supply for medical professionals and consumers.
The Better Man Distilling Co., which opened last year in the old Blue Point Brewery spot on River Avenue, will move 100 percent of their production to sanitizer, Gruppuso said. She added that the situation has had a major impact on the community and they felt compelled to help. The sanitizer they produce will go toward local hospitals, ambulance companies, and doctors’ offices. It is not yet available directly to consumers.
The processes are similar, Gruppuso said, but it actually takes less time to ferment alcohol for this use, compared to consumption purposes, about three days instead of five. They’ll still use corn to make the alcohol and will use their normal production facilities. They expect to have their first batch of 1,400 bottles done by next week.
Better Man will rely on their current stockpile of liquors and to-go cocktails that are fully available for take-out or delivery. And they’ll keep making the sanitizer as long as there’s demand.