SLUG staff interviews Alpine Distilling, Outlaw Distillery and Salt Flats Spirits about their production of hand sanitizer for the community.

In the Spirit of Community: Utah Distilleries’ Hand Sanitizer Aid

Beer & Spirits

We all know the dearth of hand sanitizer that COVID-19 ushered in this March. Fortunately, local distilleries recognized not only their bottom-line needs, but the community need for hand sanitizer. Below, three distillery representatives relate the process and connections of delivering hand sanitizer to the Utah populace and even beyond!

Alpine Distilling

Managing Director Rob Sergent replying:

SLUG: What’s your distillery’s story of deciding to make hand sanitizer?

Alpine: Ironically, my family has a history of ethanol use for sanitizer. My grandmother was a nurse and flew in a Piper Cub to rural Kentucky; one of the first things she would seek was a supply of distillate which would be used to sanitize medical equipment. Her son—my father and distiller Bob Sergent—served in the medical corps for the U.S. Navy for 32 years as a dentist and infection control officer.

SLUG: Why are distilleries well-suited to produce hand sanitizer?

Alpine: The originally approved FDA sanitizer should be within any distiller’s capability. One item that helped us get ahead of the formula was/is our USP Purified Water system, which we use for vodka and gin. There are multiple levels of water quality, and we were already processing the grade required by the FDA.

SLUG: What characteristics does your Cottonwood Hand Sanitizer have that also tie back to your spirits?

Alpine: Our extensive botanical knowledge is salient as we expand into custom aromas and scents that reflect our environment and what customers are looking for.

SLUG: What’s coming up for Alpine Distilling?

Alpine: We are very excited about our Straight Bourbon, which is in limited release and selling out as soon as it’s bottled. In addition, we are laying down substantial whiskey stock using Utah grains, of which we are very proud. My wife’s gin was recently awarded another Double-Gold in London, and we look forward to sharing these with visitors to our great state in the pending Winter season.

Outlaw Distillery

Co-owner/Distiller Kirk Sedgwick replying:

SLUG: What extra steps did your distillery need to take in order to create this product?

Outlaw: We had to order the other ingredients and find bottles to put it in, [including] hydrogen peroxide and glycerin … We had to also get FDA-certified as an over-the-counter drug manufacturer.

SLUG: Where was your hand sanitizer distributed beyond your facility?

Outlaw: We had it distributed through Sierra Supply and Associated Foods. Most of it is sold here at our distillery. Sierra was distributing in Wyoming, and Associated Foods was distributing to any of their stores that were running short on the main supply. 

SLUG: What have customers’ responses been?

Outlaw: People have been very thankful to us for making and supplying it … It feels great to have helped out in these trying times. It is also nice to receive thank-you letters from all the places we helped (IHC Hospitals, State of Utah, care facilities, schools, etc.) … The one that stuck out for me was a lady that was on medication that compromised her immune system, so she was very high-risk. She spent probably five minutes thanking us for making the sanitizers and having it available to get when there was none to be found. We also make a surface sanitizer that the coaches and the preschools really like.

SLUG: What’s coming up for Outlaw?

Outlaw: We have several more limited releases that we will be doing over the next few months. We are very excited for our next two: We have a beer-barrel-aged whiskey and an aged moonshine.

Salt Flats Spirits

Operations Manager J.C. Straub replying:

SLUG: How does it feel to have made this product?

Salt Flats: Producing a product that helps keep the public safe feels great … [and] that we were able to pivot so quickly and execute the production the way we did. We’ve produced over 15,000 gallons of sanitizer, and doing so allowed us to keep all of our employees and keep the company moving forward.

SLUG: Where was your hand sanitizer distributed beyond your facility?

Salt Flats: It’s still available out in the market. Some places include Maceys, Dan’s, Fresh Markets, Reams, Lin’s, and yes, still available at our restaurants Garage Grill and Toscano Italian Bistro.

SLUG: What have customers’ responses been?

Salt Flats: People have enjoyed this style of sanitizer. With it being more liquid and not a gel, it evaporates quickly and leaves your hands feeling cleaner than the alternative gel kind. 

SLUG: What’re your plans like to continue producing hand sanitizer?

Salt Flats: We’re currently sitting on a huge supply that’s packaged and ready to go. We’re working with local schools and businesses to give them a great deal and liquidate the inventory we currently have. If the demand spikes again, we’re ready to dive back into production when needed.

SLUG: What’s coming up for Salt Flats?

Salt Flats: We’re always working on new recipes, but a few innovative products are our new Bartender To Go cocktails, which are premixed cocktails in a can made with our house spirits and all-natural ingredients. They’re available at our facility for sale, and we’re working on getting them into the state stores.