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Copper Rivet Distillery switches from gin to alcohol hand sanitiser

Kent’s Copper Rivet Distillery has been working throughout the night to develop new recipes for hand sanitation products.

Orders from organisations who cannot ‘distance’ or isolate themselves from others by nature of their jobs are high: and the aim is to have the first consignment of Copper Rivet’s hand sanitiser available by Friday, 3rd April.  

This will initially be for the emergency services and public authorities only, with the Metropolitan Police Service and other Police Forces in particular.

Copper Rivet Distillery makes its own neutral alcohol – one of only a handful of English distilleries to do so – so it is in control of its own supplies and of its quality. But such is the likely demand for the sanitiser, that is has partnered with local brewer, Shepherd Neame of Faversham, to supply specially brewed, high strength beer in bulk to boost Copper Rivet’s supplies for its distillation process.

Comments co-founder Stephen Russell, “This is about Copper Rivet using its equipment and resources, its people and its knowledge, to help the emergency services. Our business sells Dockyard Gin and Vela Vodka to pubs, bars and restaurants, which are now all closed; so this new sanitiser product allows the distillery to help the wider community, protect distillery jobs, and perhaps creatively develop a totally new range of products.

“We make our gin and vodka from locally grown wheat, barley and rye, and the naturalness of those cereals should give us an excellent base for a new health product.

“But achieving the right chemical formula is not easy. By itself, high strength alcohol could hurt hands by opening up cracks and encouraging germs to attack. So the solution’s formula needs to comply with World Health Organisation guidance. Together the compounds achieve the efficacy of the alcohol, while also being kind to the hands.”

There are two aspects that need to be considered to ensure the sanitiser is effective:

  1. You need a high enough alcohol content to kill off the virus, for example, 70%;
  2. And in addition, the liquid needs to be in contact with the virus long enough to kill it, as by itself alcohol will evaporate too fast, so you need compounds which slow the evaporation.

Stephen continues, “Abhi Banik, the Copper Rivet Head Distiller, has been working hard to assemble a blend of compounds to diminish the evaporation of the alcohol.  This blend also should impede spillage or wastage and make use of our hand sanitisers more efficient. Our formula also contains added vitamin E.”

A third problem to overcome is a general shortage in Britain of plastic bottles for the sanitiser. Luckily, Copper Rivet had already put together a large supply, so this is not a worry.

Like other distillers looking to help find answers to the Coronavirus outbreak, Copper Rivet Distillery needed permission from HMRC (Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs) to sell its new ‘neutral spirit’ product without duty, which would have added an estimated £20 per litre. This came with a government announcement last week. Twitter: @rivetdistillery and facebook / Instagram: @copperrivetdistillery