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Tennessee Hills Distillery creates, sells out of hand sanitizer within 24 hours, donates proceeds

Jonathan Roberts • Mar 19, 2020 at 10:00 AM

JONESBOROUGH — When local school systems closed out of concern about the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), Tennessee Hills Distillery owner Stephen Callahan knew he wanted to find a way to help.

His solution? Make hand sanitizer with the distillery’s waste alcohol and donate the proceeds from sales to local food pantries and schools to help feed students out of school due to the virus. And while he thought it would be a good way to help the community, he didn’t expect the response he got.

“It shut us down,” Callahan said. “We had no idea we would have the response we got — which we’re very thankful for. Initially, it started as an idea to help out the community and keep morale up and try to do our part to get us through this thing.”

After making and selling about 1,000 bottles, Callahan and the distillery are focused on securing the crucial ingredients to continue production. Callahan estimated it would take until around mid-week next week to produce more, and that they will likely start making alcohol solely for their hand sanitizer. The bottles cost a $2 minimum donation, with 100% of the proceeds being donated.

Once the distillery gets the necessary ingredients, namely aloe, Callahan estimates it will be able to produce around 2,000 of the 50 milliliter, 60% alcohol bottles every couple of days. Callahan also noted that he will likely look to bring on volunteers to help bottle the sanitizer in an attempt to increase production. Anyone interested in volunteering can email [email protected].

“We’ve had an unbelievable response,” Callahan said. “I think we’re going to be able to help out a lot more people than we initially intended, so that’s a whole new aspect of what we got going on right now.”

As he prepared for the next release of the sanitizer, Callahan said the distillery increased its vodka production and will hold a sale on its vodka as a means to get people in their doors and clear inventory ahead of the next batch of sanitizer this weekend.

“We’re happy to do it for our community,” Callahan said. “It’s just a unique opportunity, and right now since we’ve had such a great response we feel it’s kind of our duty to do it and play our part, which is really cool.”

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