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Amid Pandemic, Mass. Distilleries Fill High Demand For Hand Sanitizer

Short Path Distillery in Everett is among the Massachusetts distilleries creating needed hand sanitizer as people fight the coronavirus pandemic. (Courtesy Short Path Distillery)
Short Path Distillery in Everett is among the Massachusetts distilleries creating needed hand sanitizer as people fight the coronavirus pandemic. (Courtesy Short Path Distillery)

Distillers throughout Massachusetts are coming together in an effort to organize the creation and distribution of hand sanitizer in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

As the pandemic has expanded, consumer demand for sanitizer has left store shelves largely empty. The Massachusetts Distillers Alliance (MDA) is hoping to fill that demand — so far, nearly a dozen members are now working to create hand sanitizer.

Short Path Distillery in Everett began looking into manufacturing hand sanitizer after the federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau issued guidance approving already permitted distillers to make it.

"It's been quite a trip," said Zachary Robinson, Short Path co-founder and MDA board member. "We felt we were trying to do what we can as a company but it was definitely this feeling of helplessness. And now it certainly feels very good to like — 'Oh we are doing something. We are going to actively be part of the effort.' "

Short Path sold out its first batch in one day and is in the process of getting more materials for another batch this week.

"There is a basic WHO recipe to make hand sanitizer," Robinson said. "It's high-proof alcohol, glycerol, hydrogen peroxide and a little bit of water."

Robinson says Short Path created a test batch earlier in the month and saw that the process worked. It then progressed quickly from there.

"The whole Mass. Distillers Alliance was on an email chain trying to work out together how we could get this to happen and the ways to cut through the red tape," Robinson said.

GrandTen Distilling in Dorchester is also among the MDA members making hand sanitizer. The distillery has been including free bottles of the sanitizer along with retail purchases.

"We're trying to be nimble and responsive and be a good community partner," President and co-owner Matt Nuernberger said, "but at the same time we're trying to keep our lights on and keep our employees employed and fed and rent paid."

Other distillers creating their own hand sanitizer include Dirty Water Distillery in Plymouth, Silver Bear Distillery in Dalton and Berkshire Mountain Distillers in Sheffield. Robinson also says Boston's Bully Boy Distillers, Silversmith Spirits in Rockland, Deacon Giles Distillery in Salem and Triple Eight Distillery on Nantucket are all involved with hand sanitizer efforts as well.

Bob Shaffer Twitter Producer
Bob Shaffer is a producer in WBUR’s newscast unit.

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