Coronavirus response: Claremont distillery pivots from spirits to producing hand sanitizer

CLAREMONT, Calif. (KABC) -- Hand sanitizer is hard to come by these days, but Citrus Grove Distiller in Claremont is hoping to remedy that shortage.
"The nice thing with making sanitizer is we don't have to worry about the flavor, so we can really push the fermentation to get as much alcohol as we can," said employee Justin Farraj.

But the brew coming out of the still can't be drunk, because the alcohol is the kind you find in sanitizer.

"We started seeing distillery all over the place doing it and we said, 'That is it,'" said Madelyn Dillon, owner of the distillery.

Dillon said they were were able to make 50 gallons of hand sanitizer.

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"Three days it took us to sale out of 25 gallons of hand sanitizer and I was getting a 150 calls day, 'Hey do you still have hand sanitizer left?' And I was rationing it out to people," said Dillon.

The small business donated the other 25 gallons.
"I was giving hospitals half-gallons just to keep them okay for a week," she said.

The distillery is now ramping up to operate 24-7, training its bartenders and hiring a few out-of-work bartenders to help.

"We decided if we can clear out our bar space and ramp it up into a full manufacturing facility, we can maybe make this work out and help as many people as we can," said Farraj.

At a time when hand sanitizer is scarce, there is no shortage of community spirit.

"As long as they need us we will be making it for our community," said Dillon.

Citrus Grove Distiller will be offering hand sanitizer to the public starting next week. To find out more, visit its Instagram page at @CitrusGroveDistiller.
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