Gin distilleries have announced plans to switch to producing hand sanitiser during the coronavirus pandemic.
The boss of one distillery in Lincoln said “desperate times call for desperate measures” and it would donate hand sanitiser to vulnerable people.
Bristol’s Psychopomp Micro-distillery is supplying the public with 100ml of the product at a time for a donation.
58 Gin, in London, will launch hand atomisers in about three weeks’ time after making a batch for a charity.
The firm in Hoxton, east London, said a share of its profits would go to the drinks industry’s charity as members were “on its knees” right now.
Danny Walker, director of Psychopomp and Circumstance in Kingsdown, Bristol, said it had received donations with one person giving £20 for a 100ml refillable glass bottle.
The firm is restricting purchases to one bottle at a time “as we want to help more rather than less people”.
In a week it has raised about £800 for Bristol’s Children’s Hospital.
The firms are following the lead of the Louis Vuitton’s owner LVMH which announced on Monday it would be using perfume production lines to start making hand sanitiser to protect people against coronavirus.
Matt Felgate, the owner of Lincoln Gin, said: “We are trying to use the resources we have – namely high-strength alcohol – to put together a functional hand sanitiser.
“I do not want a penny from this. I’m here to help and do the right thing.”
He started making small batches for friends, family and elderly neighbours after he was unable to buy any in the shops to give to his mother.
“She had a kidney transplant a few years ago, and has no immune system due to her being on medication,” Mr Felgate said.
The firm wants volunteers to get in touch on Facebook to help distribute it to vulnerable people, including to elderly neighbours, homeless charities and those in care homes.
Mr Walker, from Psychopomp, has applied for two licences to make and purchase denatured alcohol which is required for hand sanitiser production.
“We plan to sell it commercially at cost price to places like hospitals and restaurants and pubs that are staying open,” he said.
58 Gin’s director Carmen O’Neal said its first sanitiser, made for a charity event, contained 96% ethanol – pure alcohol – and aloe vera.
The company said it would be producing an atomiser containing the emollient glycerol instead of aloe vera as prices had “rocketed across the world”.
So far in the UK 1,950 people have been diagnosed with coronavirus and 71 people have died, with 23 of those deaths in London, according to government figures.