Local distillery helps community amid COVID-19 pandemic

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NEW RICHMOND, Wis. (WEAU) -- Hand sanitizer can be hard to find amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We started getting calls about a week ago, people were asking about it so we thought we would just use our waste alcohol to make some hand sanitizer," said Owner of 45th Parallel distillery, Paul Werni.

45th Parallel Distillery in New Richmond is stepping up to fill that need in their community.

"We're supplying the public and a lot of local businesses with hand sanitizer," said Anton Werni with 45th Parallel Distillery. "We didn't want to do it for money at all, we figured we would do it for the community"

Monday morning, the community was able to pull up to the distillery and employees ran out and filled bottles with their home-made sanitizer.

Cars were lined up for several miles waiting to get the free hand sanitizer.

"The cars are going all the way back towards Wal-Mart," Anton said.

Anton says it is not just the New Richmond community that is asking for 45th Parallel's help.

"People down in Prescott, River Falls, Eau Claire and Menomonie and then out in Minneapolis and that whole side of the state too," he said.

But now, the distillery is having to use their regular products instead of waste alcohol to keep up with demand.

"We had to use basically what we would use to make a vodka or gin, we use basically a pure ethanol and make a large 250 gallon batch," Paul said.

While the cost is free to the public, plenty of people were giving donations to help with the cost to make it.

"It costs us about $6 per gallon to produce this so we are taking donations and people are offering it to us," Paul said.

That makes each 250 gallon batch about $1,500 to make, but Paul won't let that get in the way of helping his community.

"We're going to run out today and we are going to need to make another large batch and we hope to have that within a week, and we're going to keep on doing it," he said.

The distillery ran out of hand sanitizer within a few hours Monday morning, and they say to check their Facebook page as they hope to have another batch ready for curbside pick-up next week.

Read the original version of this article at www.weau.com.