Suburban distilleries continuing to produce sanitizer

  • After hearing that police and fire departments didn't have enough hand sanitizer, state Sen. Dan McConchie, left, called the owners of Copper Fiddle Distillery in Lake Zurich, Andrew Macker, right, and Jim Iverhouse to make some. Macker said Friday they will continue to produce for first responders but aren't getting into producing sanitizer for consumers.

      After hearing that police and fire departments didn't have enough hand sanitizer, state Sen. Dan McConchie, left, called the owners of Copper Fiddle Distillery in Lake Zurich, Andrew Macker, right, and Jim Iverhouse to make some. Macker said Friday they will continue to produce for first responders but aren't getting into producing sanitizer for consumers. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Head distiller Matt Greif, left, and owner Eric Falberg have upped production of hand sanitizer at 28 Mile Vodka & Distillery in Highwood.

    Head distiller Matt Greif, left, and owner Eric Falberg have upped production of hand sanitizer at 28 Mile Vodka & Distillery in Highwood. Courtesy of Kasey Dunn Morgan

 
 
Updated 3/28/2020 8:36 AM

While 28 Mile Vodka & Distillery in Highwood is ramping up production of sanitizer -- both to donate to first responders and to sell to consumers -- the smaller Copper Fiddle Distillery in Lake Zurich will stick to donating the sanitizer produced there.

Copper Fiddle owner Andrew Macker said last week if the distillery received enough donations he would like to produce a batch of sanitizer to sell to regular customers. But Friday he said those plans changed now that large distilleries -- including Tito's Vodka, Smirnoff and Diageo, the owner of Johnnie Walker -- are increasing sanitizer production.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"They are able to do a lot more bottles than we are. Once they get in the game, the supply issue will be dealt with," Macker said.

He said Copper Fiddle's second batch of sanitizer for local first responders will be ready on Tuesday.

"We are still committed to doing what we can for first responders," Macker said. "I wish we could do more if we had the equipment."

Eric Falberg, the owner of 28 Mile, said he is moving ahead with a plan to produce sanitizers for the retail market. He said the initiative has increased the general production and output beyond what 28 Mile made before the crisis.

"The still will not stop running until this is all over," Falberg said.

Company officials have been able to hire back nearly everyone they laid off at the start of the crisis, he said, including a head bartender who is now learning how to distill.

Falberg said he has no idea what the consumer sanitizer market is going to look like, but he expects even with the large distilleries' production that demand could remain high.

"Since we have the capacity we're going to go for it," Falberg said.

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