Springfield Distillery in Halifax has shifted its production from whiskey to hand sanitizer.
Owners James and Kelly Gordon decided to shift gears after seeing the community’s need for hand sanitizer during the coronavirus pandemic.
“I think you’ll find that every distillery across the United States is shifting their production to make hand sanitizer,” said James Gordon. “The normal supply routes can’t keep up with it, so we’re stepping in. We’ve had people from all over south central Virginia calling and asking us for hand sanitizer, so clearly there’s a very large need for it and we’re trying to produce all that we can.”
Hand washing is the No. 1 guideline that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, and hand sanitizer has become a hot commodity.
The Gordons are manufacturing the hand sanitizer in bulk and donating it to organizations in need. The distillery’s first batch of hand sanitizer was donated to the South Boston Police Department, the Halifax County Sheriff’s Office, a hospital in Lynchburg and Food Lion for its delivery drivers’ use, James said.
The main component of hand sanitizer is alcohol. Glycerin and hydrogen peroxide are added to the hand sanitizer in the production process, James explained. The glycerin in particular is added as a softening ingredient.
Jim and Carolyn Lacks, owners of Heritage House Home Furnishings in South Boston, volunteered to pay for the hydrogen peroxide and glycerin needed for the distillery’s manufacture of the hand sanitizer, and the Gordons accepted the offer.
“The (Halifax County) community is great. It’s the best of what living in America has to offer,” James said. “Everybody is always willing to help each other.”
Springfield Distillery is in its fourth year of operation. James expressed concern that he and his wife’s distillery, along with 34 other distilleries with tasting rooms in Virginia, are facing an uncertain future due to the coronavirus pandemic. Tasting rooms in distilleries throughout Virginia have been forced to close.
“It would be nice if the state would allow us to sell our product online directly to the consumers and help us keep our business,” James said. “If you can get anything else delivered to your house, why not liquor?”
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority has amended its licensing regulations, allowing any business with a liquor license to deliver beer or wine to customers’ homes. Liquor delivery, however, is not allowed, and James finds that unfair.
James said Springfield would never sell hand sanitizer for profit no matter how much the coronavirus pandemic cuts into profits at the distillery.
“We’re going to do our part to help our community regardless of anything the state does. I just hope the state does the right thing, too,” James said.