MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Downtown Memphis’ Old Dominick Distillery is shifting gears to produce hand sanitizer during the coronavirus pandemic.
The distillery has partnered with Shelby County to produce up to 10,000 units for distribution to the lower income community, elderly and homeless population of Shelby County.
“In this unprecedented time of crisis, the Old Dominick team wants to help our community anyway we can,” said Alex Castle, master distiller and senior vice president of Old Dominick Distillery. “We‘ve only recently received permission from the federal government to produce hand sanitizer, which we are actively pursuing at this time.”
Old Dominick expects small-scale testing to begin early this week with full production beginning the week of March 30.
“Once I was notified that distilleries were legally allowed to start producing hand sanitizer, I began studying the two formulas provided by the World Health Organization which Distillers are required to use,” said Castle. “My chemistry skills were a little out of practice and I wanted to ensure that my team and I were more than prepared to start test batches the moment the raw materials were delivered.”
Shelby County Commissioner Tami Sawyer sponsored a resolution that has since passed through the commission and health committee, allowing up to $50,000 in emergency funding to cover costs of Old Dominick hand sanitizer production.
“During this COVID-19 pandemic, it is vital that we work together to take all necessary precautions and measures to ensure that we are working to protect all our constituents of Shelby County," said Sawyer. "Sometimes we have to think outside of the box to solve issues and in our collaboration with Old Dominick to produce these much needed hand sanitizers we were able to do just that.”
Shelby County will distribute all hand sanitizer produced by Old Dominick. Sawyer plans for a large portion of the hand sanitizer units to be distributed to low income communities and the balance given to the homeless population and SCS food distribution sites.
The distillery will not sell any hand sanitizer.
Old Dominick Distillery has suspended all distillery tours and The Bar at the distillery will remain temporarily closed in order to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“Our first priority is always the health and well being of our tour and bar guests, as well as that of our community and employees,” said Chris Canale Jr., president of Old Dominick Distillery.
Canale is continuing to pay the Old Dominick Distillery team during the temporary suspension of distillery tours and bar activity.