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ONTARIO: 'Moonshiner' switches production to hand sanitizer amid COVID-19 pandemic (3 photos)

Dixon's Distilled Spirits usually makes vodka and gin

Guelph-based Dixon’s Distilled Spirits has temporarily shut down its regular production line to make much-needed hand sanitizer for health care workers in the area.

The company is offering the product for free to local doctors, paramedics, firefighters and anyone who works in the health care sector, said Vicky Dixon, part owner of the distillery.

“It was intended to be vodka or gin, but the frontline health workers are running out,” said Dixon. “It’s important to keep them stocked or we are all screwed.”

On Wednesday, the company produced about 500 litres of hand sanitizer. Thursday’s goal is to increase the yield to 700 litres.

“It’s been in the thought process since COVID-19 came out, but we didn’t really know how to put it together until people started calling asking for it,” said Dixon.

It is one of a number of distilleries across Ontario that have similarity shifted their production lines to making hand sanitizer.

The company may end up selling some of the sanitizer to the general public, but Dixon said providing it to the frontline workers for free is the priority.

Larry Gable is the owner of G & G Skate Training Centre in Kitchener. With all training at the centre temporarily suspended, Gable is one of seven volunteers helping Dixon’s to produce, bottle and pack the hand sanitizer.

“They needed some help, so here I am,” said Gable. 

The raw ethanol alcohol was already in storage at Dixon’s, created from a corn mixture. Instead of going on to the next steps to create gin and vodka, the 70 per cent alcohol is being mixed into hand sanitizer and put into 120 ml bottles.

“It’s a process that is time consuming. A lot of people are involved in doing this, but it’s obviously helping the frontline workers,” said Gable.

The company received a new recipe for hand sanitizer Thursday morning from a local doctor, said Chevy Patterson, part-owner and master distiller at Dixon’s.

“It’s not only uses our ethanol, but adding glycerol and hydrogen peroxide,” said Patterson. “We are just mixing up the first batch of that right now.”

He quipped: "I'm a moonshiner, but now I make hand sanitizer."

By adding the extra ingredients as a sort of filler, the company will be able to make even their alcohol go further and produce more of the hand sanitizer.

”Guelph General Hospital just called us, they are running low on hand sanitizer, so we are trying to help them out right away,” said Patterson.

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Kenneth Armstrong

About the Author: Kenneth Armstrong

Kenneth Armstrong is a news reporter and photojournalist who regularly covers municipal government, business and politics and photographs events, sports and features.
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