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Generous Spirit: Local distilleries using their ingredients to help make hand sanitizer

It started when a local company that makes hand sanitizer ran out of ingredients. That's when Switchgrass Spirits was contacted

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — As hand sanitizer flies off store shelves and becomes harder to find, more distilleries around the country are using their resources to make it themselves.

Nick Colombo is in an industry that requires patience to make a product.

"Whiskey is a long game," said Colombo, who's a founding member of Switchgrass Spirits in north St. Louis County.

Even though Switchgrass Spirits has been selling for just a month, production just came to a screeching halt.

"We just stopped making whiskey and started making hand sanitizer," he said.

Colombo knows that there's no time to let things age in this time of need.

"We went from concept to product in four days," he added.

RELATED: VERIFY: Hand sanitizer should be used for about 20 seconds, not three to four minutes

It started when a local company that makes hand sanitizer ran out of ingredients. That's when Switchgrass Spirits was contacted.

"She said, ‘I can't find any alcohol. I said, we have lots of alcohol.’ It's methyl alcohol. It's a bi-product of making good whiskey, is cutting this stuff out of what you sell to customers," Columbo explained.

Switchgrass Spirits gave the company 60 gallons of high proof alcohol for free on one condition: that they could purchase a bunch of the hand sanitizer made with their alcohol at a low cost, in order to help the community. They plan to donate 1,000 bottles to places like the Mid-County Fire Protection District.

"We're distributing to the elderly in Wellston, food pantry, police,” he said.

"We appreciate it so much. Very nice of you. Thank you," Mid-County Fire Protection District Fire Chief Sean Mahoney said. "As our supplies drop down, we'll put it into service with the guys."

And Switchgrass Spirits isn't the only local distillery. StilL 630 is in the process of making a hand sanitizer to donate to the community. Along with 4 Hands Brewery and possibly others.

"Small distilleries are in a unique position to help make this distinct product," Colombo said.

Putting profits aside to help the community.

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