An Alcohol Solution

Stopping the Spread of Covid-19 at Corowra

In early 2020 when the Covid-19 pandemic first appeared globally, handwashing quickly became a critical line of defence. Early advice given was to wash your hands with warm soapy water for the duration of two rounds of the song ‘Happy Birthday’. If that wasn’t possible then hospital grade hand sanitiser containing sixty to eighty percent alcohol was the next best thing. As the pandemic crisis grew, the demand for hand sanitiser did too. This placed increasing pressures on Australia’s supply and distribution networks.

Reminiscent of past war-time decisions, on 22 March 2020, the Prime Minister announced all non-essential services would be closed to help stop the spread of the virus. Many of Australia’s distilleries and breweries saw this as an opportunity to retain their staff and help keep the country safe. Distilleries produce ethanol, a chemical compound more commonly referred to as alcohol. And it is alcohol that makes hand sanitiser so effective in killing germs.

When their café and function centre closed, the Corowa Distilling Company in the Riverina made the innovative switch from producing alcoholic spirits to hospital grade sanitisers. It took two weeks to source the ingredients and one week to begin production, allowing the company to keep their staff employed and contribute community safety. Sold in the 500 ml bottle shown here, or bulk five or twenty litre amounts, the sanitiser was available to the public through partnerships with online retailers such as The Whisky Company who sold smaller travel sized pump packs.

The sanitiser exceeded expectations and the Distillery worked around the clock to meet demand. As the demand slowed, normal whisky production resumed.