Norfolk distilleries start making hand sanitiser to combat coronavirus

PUBLISHED: 16:25 16 March 2020 | UPDATED: 09:23 17 March 2020

Russell Evans, chairman of Bullards Spirits, is going to start making hand sanitiser at his distillery. Pic: Archant

Russell Evans, chairman of Bullards Spirits, is going to start making hand sanitiser at his distillery. Pic: Archant


Norfolk distilleries are gearing up to start producing hand sanitiser to help combat the coronavirus.

Andrew Nelstrop of English Whisky Company. PHOTO: Visit NorwichAndrew Nelstrop of English Whisky Company. PHOTO: Visit Norwich

Distilleries are well-placed for production given access to the high-percentage alcohol ingredients which are needed in sanitiser.

Norwich’s Bullards will begin producing sanitiser from tomorrow, with chairman Russell Evans saying: “We’ve got plenty of alcohol here, so we’re going to be ordering in the extra ingredients we need and then start work tomorrow.

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“We’ll be working with existing supply channels to get it out there. We know suppliers are already struggling with stock, and there’s no point us retailing it ourselves. People aren’t going to be coming to Crystal House to buy sanitiser if they’ve been told to stay indoors.”

Over the weekend luxury goods group LVMH announced it would start producing hand sanitiser at three of its perfume and cosmetics factories in France to help the country’s hospitals.

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The English Whisky Company in Roudham is already producing sanitiser to be used on the premises.

Director Andrew Nelstrop said: “The problem we have is that the alcohol duty to sell sanitiser off site is so high that whatever we produced would be exceedingly expensive to buy – even just to cover costs.

“I’d welcome a change to legislation that would change this to allow us to produce sanitiser at a reasonable price.”

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He was echoed by Steph Brown of Wild Knight Distillery, who said: “We would never want to profit from the coronavirus, we would just need to cover our costs. The area we would need to overcome is the duty paid on the spirit, so it’s something we would need to take advice from the government on.”

Peter Allingham, co-founder of Archangel Gin in Fakenham, said: “It’s something I would absolutely do but I don’t know where to start.

“I’ve read the warnings about trying to produce your own sanitiser at home which is why I am cautious about doing it correctly, but if there are other distilleries in the area who would share their knowledge I would be very keen to get involved.”

He added: “Of course we would sell it at a price which only covers the cost of production. We’re all in it together and we need to all just do what we can to help.”

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