Illinois Distilleries Switch Gears to Produce Hand Sanitizer - Illinois Farm Bureau Partners Illinois Distilleries Switch Gears to Produce Hand Sanitizer - Illinois Farm Bureau Partners

Illinois Distilleries Switch Gears to Produce Hand Sanitizer

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Photo credit: Nick Nagele/Whiskey Acres Distilling Co.

Your local distillery may now be producing something other than spirits. Thanks to exemptions from the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), distilleries may now produce ethanol-based hand sanitizers. 

The largest craft distillery in Illinois, Kennay Farms Distilling in Rochelle is owned and operated by the Kennay family, sixth-generation farmers. After the exemptions were lived in March, the Kennays sprang into action to get the bulk products necessary. These include containers of various sizes plus the ingredients to add to the ethanol – glycerol and hydrogen peroxide. The result is liquid hand sanitizer.

Photo credit: Nick Nagele/Whiskey Acres Distilling Co.

“This is new, uncharted territory that we’re walking into,” says Evan Quinn of Kennay Farms Distilling. “We have staff here that we’re trying to keep employed so as long as costs are met on the product (hand sanitizer) … our end goal is to be able to help the greater good right now.”

See more: 3 Illinois Breweries and Distilleries Going Farm to Pint

They distributed free hand sanitizer to more than 50 local health care organizations, public service agencies and first responder units, as well as to the public at a cost to cover inputs and labor. 

In a similar fashion, Whiskey Acres Distilling Co. in DeKalb is also producing and dispersing liquid hand sanitizer. Their product is being donated to Northwestern Hospital, after which it is distributed to medical personnel and first responders. 

Photo credit: Kennay Farms Distilling

“It was an idea we had to help the community and keep our operations running, once the exemptions were lifted by TTB,” says Jamie Walter, CEO of Whiskey Acres. 

Whiskey Acres is owned and operated by the father-son duo, Jim and Jamie Walter. Jamie is the fifth generation on the farm, and when they started the Distilling Co. in 2014, it was only the second certified farm distillery in the U.S.

Since starting hand sanitizer production, Whiskey Acres has been “inundated with requests” from places, such as hospitals, Fortune 500 companies and prisons.

Unfortunately, even though they continue to produce hundreds of gallons of sanitizer, they don’t have the facilities or the supplies to handle the enormous need.

“Some of these challenges cannot be overcome,” Walter explains. “We’ve attempted to streamline the process and partner with others. We’re doing our best. We’re exhausted and we’re overwhelmed by the need and by the support from the community. Mostly, we hope everyone stays well.”

Learn more about these distilleries’ efforts at kennayfarmsdistilling.com and whiskeyacres.com.

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