Local distillery starts turning spirits into sanitizer
Amid the widespread shortages of disinfectant supplies, Local Choice Spirits founder Paula Dezzutti now is bottling batches of sanitizer at her Striped Pig Distillery. The Daniel Island resident started making the sanitizer to help meet demand caused by the COVID-19 crisis.
Even before the shortage, Dezzutti was already thinking about using the usually discarded “heads and tails” from the distilling process as a cleaning product. (Distillers make heads and tails cuts while producing high proof spirit as a way to separate the good parts of the spirit from the poisonous and/or unappealing flavored portions).
Her idea was to use the byproduct to clean their floors.
“Why am I buying Clorox when we have much higher proof antiseptic right off the still and it smells great? That started me thinking that we should make hand sanitizer as well. My team laughed at me and said we can't make hand sanitizer that anyone would want to buy from us. Boy, did they change their tune over the next few weeks,” said Dezzutti.
She began brainstorming with her team on ways to get as much high proof product made as quickly as possible.
“We needed to figure out how to make high proof products faster. So we came up with a ‘Beer Bourbon Program’ where we invited all local breweries to bring us their beer, typically low proof of 5% to 8%, that would otherwise now be wasted from spoilage,” she said. “We could dump the beer into our stills and get it up to high proof a lot quicker than waiting for new products to ferment, and we could all work together to support our community.”
Dezzutti needed new licenses to produce the sanitizer and quickly applied for them. Regulatory agencies relaxed their processing restrictions during the shutdown and they advised the company to do what was necessary to help the local community.
“We applied for our license anyway … There is a whole new focus for sanitation now and I don't think that will go away. I think the world will practice healthier habits all around now,” stated Dezzutti.
The generous entrepreneur has already donated the hand sanitizer to first responders, MUSC, and Lowcountry Food Bank.
Dezzutti said she is grateful for her team. “As a single-female, family run business, it's not always an easy task to keep up with the larger companies who have huge financial, emotional and economic support behind them,” she said. “This is one of the many times that I am so proud of my children and extended team who are like family to me.”
The sanitizer will likely be available at the Striped Pig Distillery soon. The distillery is still open for sales and currently is offering a 25% discount. Purchases can be arranged by calling 843-814-8347 or online at stripedpigdistillery.square.site.