McClintock Distilling may be known for its organic spirits, but lately they’ve been focusing their production efforts on something sorely needed: hand sanitizer.
And in a big way.
The creekside distillery in downtown Frederick began production of hand sanitizer a few weeks ago to donate to health care professionals, first responders and nonprofits that were in short supply.
Tyler Hegamyer, co-founder of McClintock Distilling, said that he and the staff were pretty sure the production would have ended after they made about 500 gallons of hand sanitizer.
But that was just the beginning.
“We really thought it would be weeks of us donating this and handing it out, and it would fill this huge need,” Hegamyer said. “But after six hours, we had found a home for all of it and we realized there's a tremendous need beyond that, especially in the private sector, a lot of these essential businesses that had to remain open.
The distillery has continued to produce hand sanitizer, manufacturing 12,000 gallons, according to a recent Facebook post, and has been supplying it to nursing homes, delivery workers, police and fire stations and other organizations free of charge.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security even got a delivery.
McClintock has been closed to the public since Gov. Larry Hogan’s order on March 16, but has still been doing online orders and deliveries of their beverage products. This weekend, they decided to launch the hand sanitizer on the online order form as an add-on item, without making a large announcement about it. Customers must purchase liquor in order to purchase the hand sanitizer, which costs $25 per half gallon.
Households are limited to one hand sanitizer and are encouraged to share with neighbors.
“It was kind of interesting because the first day there was like four or five orders, and the second day there was 20, and then the third day, you can tell the word of mouth was traveling. It blew up and there were 80 to 100 of them,” he said.
McClintock employees are delivering their hand sanitizer and spirits within a 30-mile radius, and have been doing a solid 100 or so deliveries the past couple of days.
The distillery has also given some of its sanitizer to Amazon for its delivery drivers and employees in Rockville and Linthicum to use.
“Their employees have a huge need for it, because they touch pretty much every package that comes through and then it goes out to every home in Maryland,” Hegamyer said.
The process of making hand sanitizer is similar to the process to make vodka, Hegamyer said. Many other distilleries around the country are also producing hand sanitizer to keep up with the demand. Tenth Ward Distilling in downtown Frederick produced some sanitizer, but has since switched to making a surface disinfectant for cleaning.
McClintock's hand sanitizer is distilled to 72 percent alcohol, higher than a 40 percent vodka. Then vegetable glycerin and hydrogen peroxide are added.
“The vegetable glycerin keeps your hands from drying out and the hydrogen peroxide keeps any bacterial growth from growing in the solution, not that much would grow in a 70 percent alcohol solution anyway,” Hegamyer said.
The process is straightforward, but it does take time. While McClintock temporarily switches its focus, Hegamyer admits that they will need to restock some of their products.
“I realize we’re about to sell out of a bunch of stuff, so we might have to find a couple hours in the middle of the night to produce,” Hegamyer said. “From start to finish, it does take a long time when you do it from scratch, but at the end of the day, it's really not too complicated of a process.”