By Liz Shepherd
WARSAW — Distilleries throughout the United States have moved from making spirits to sanitizer amidst the virus pandemic. A local distillery is following suit through giving back to the community by making hand sanitizer and donating it to organizations in need.
Streven Distilling Company, connected to the Instru-Med building on North Detroit Street, was created in 2016 by Mitch Miller and his wife. The couple is currently aging bourbon at the distillery, but has vodka and gin that is sold to a distributor, who then sells the products to package stores.
Miller decided to start making hand sanitizer in the distillery after the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) relaxed regulations regarding additional permits for making sanitizer.
“Once they made that announcement, we immediately said, ‘Let’s do it,'” said Miller. “But the initial problem was trying to find the inactive ingredients, glycerol and hydrogen peroxide, which were pretty difficult to find at that point.”
Miller attributes the initial limited supply of inactive ingredients, as well as the low amount of plastic containers to use as sanitizer bottles, to distilleries all throughout the United States making hand sanitizer as well.
“Everyone’s doing it,” said Miller. “The stuff that I’ve bought has been through Amazon, which the prices on that have been pretty jacked up right now. We’ve had people offer to donate plastic products to use for bottling, which we appreciate, but we don’t want to risk cross-contamination, so we’re only using new bottles. The only limiting factor right now is the containers to put it in.”
Distilleries have access to 190 proof ethanol, which is not only the base for gin and vodka, but also the type of ingredient that goes into hand sanitizer.
The ingredients in the hand sanitizer created at the distillery are ethanol, hydrogen peroxide, glycerol and distilled water. All distilleries making hand sanitizer are following a formula provided by the World Health Organization.
Thus far, Streven Distilling Company has made 75 gallons of hand sanitizer, with a majority of that amount being distributed to medical facilities and essential businesses, including the Bowen Center, Cardinal Services, Goshen Health and Miller’s Merry Manor.
“That’s where we’ve focused our initial effort,” said Miller. “We should have another 50 gallon batch ready later this week, and we also have more plastic bottles from Amazon on the way. We’re going to keep doing this as long as we can keep getting supplies and as long as there’s a need.”
Miller has received dozens of requests from individuals wanting hand sanitizer due to the low supply at retail chains. He plans to have bottles of hand sanitizer available for purchase sometime next week and will make an announcement regarding distribution hours and pricing on Streven Distilling Company’s Facebook page. Distribution will occur just outside of the business and social distancing will be practiced.
“I really encourage the community to support small businesses and locally-owned restaurants,” said Miller. “We’re (the distilling company) going to be okay since I work at Instru-Med outside of the distillery, but I can’t encourage building support and shopping local enough right now.”