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Distilleries in the Dayton area and across the country have joined the effort to quickly produce high-proof alcohol used in germ-killing hand wash during the coronavirus pandemic. Belle of Dayton in Dayton’s Oregon District is on the process of distilling at least 1,000 gallons of excess wine from The Winery at Versailles into high-proof alcohol.
Measel said he and distillery officials were approached by a group from WPAFB in mid-March.
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At first glance, Measel was skeptical his distillery could do what was asked, because hand sanitizer is regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as an over-the-counter drug, which has licensing regulations in place that could have delayed production by months, the distiller’s co-owner said.
“I originally told the gentleman we wouldn't be able to produce hand sanitizer for them. But the next day, the FDA put out of memo indicating that they we're going to loosen the restrictions to a point that made it more feasible for us to get involved,” Measel said.
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Stillwrights had on hand 12 batches of what was originally intended to be Stillwrights Rum, and which was ready to be bottled. At retail, the batches would have been worth about $100,000, Measel said. Instead, Stillwrights began re-distilling the spirit to produce 190-proof alcohol for the group at the base.
“They had asked if we could supply them with 5,000 eight ounce bottles of hand sanitizer,” Measel said.
Tracking down packaging, labels and ingredients for the final sanitizer proved difficult and time-consuming. Plus, Stillwrights has a whiskey still, which works slowly to make high-proof alcohol, Mesel said.
“We are producing as much as we can, but we can’t provide all they asked for,” the Stillwrights co-owner said. “We have shipped around 2,000 of the 5,000 they asked for.”