Shut down by coronavirus, Lake Zurich distillery now producing sanitizer to help fight back

  • Andrew Macker, owner and operator of Copper Fiddle Distillery in Lake Zurich, checks the flow of the sanitizer he and his team created out of unsold bottles of rum to give away to police and fire departments.

      Andrew Macker, owner and operator of Copper Fiddle Distillery in Lake Zurich, checks the flow of the sanitizer he and his team created out of unsold bottles of rum to give away to police and fire departments. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • 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, center, to make some. They double-distilled some unsold rum 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, center, to make some. They double-distilled some unsold rum to produce sanitizer. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Andrew Macker, owner and operator of Copper Fiddle Distillery in Lake Zurich, checks the level of alcohol in the sanitizer he made for police and fire departments Friday.

      Andrew Macker, owner and operator of Copper Fiddle Distillery in Lake Zurich, checks the level of alcohol in the sanitizer he made for police and fire departments Friday. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Andrew Macker, left, owner and operator of Copper Fiddle Distillery in Lake Zurich, and Rob Scaramella, master distiller, work on producing hand sanitizer for local police and fire departments.

    Andrew Macker, left, owner and operator of Copper Fiddle Distillery in Lake Zurich, and Rob Scaramella, master distiller, work on producing hand sanitizer for local police and fire departments. Courtesy of Sen. Dan McConchie

  • State Sen. Dan McConchie talks with Andrew Macker, middle, owner and operator of Copper Fiddle Distillery in Lake Zurich, and Rob Scaramella, master distiller, as they work to produce hand sanitizer for police and fire departments.

    State Sen. Dan McConchie talks with Andrew Macker, middle, owner and operator of Copper Fiddle Distillery in Lake Zurich, and Rob Scaramella, master distiller, as they work to produce hand sanitizer for police and fire departments. Courtesy of Sen. Dan McConchie

 
 
Updated 3/21/2020 10:58 AM

After being silenced last week by coronavirus precautions, the still at Copper Fiddle Distillery in Lake Zurich roared back to life Friday.

But instead of producing gin or vodka, owner Andrew Macker and his team were putting the machine to work making sanitizer to help first responders stay safe during the pandemic.

 

Macker said they made about 100 bottles of sanitizer to give away to local police and fire departments.

The sanitizer project started Thursday after a call from state Sen. Dan McConchie, a Hawthorn Woods Republican.

McConchie said he'd heard from local mayors that their police and fire departments were running low on sanitizer. Even though most people are asked to remain inside, first responders must be available to help and they need to use sanitizer on their hands and shared equipment, McConchie said.

Macker immediately agreed to help.

"I am proud of the willingness of Copper Fiddle to respond to the call to ensure our first responders are cared for and protected during this crisis," McConchie said. "We are so much stronger when we stand together."

Usually it takes about a week to make a batch of sanitizer, Macker said, but for the first batch produced Friday his team used about 45 cases of unsold bottles of rum to speed up the process.

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"They are at 80 proof and we have to get them up to 140 to 160 proof," Macker said. "We just filled the still and fired it up."

It took less than a day to produce the first batch, which will be distributed to first responders who reach out to him via email at andrew@copperfiddle.com.

Macker said he and his team will make another batch for first responders which should be ready around March 30.

McConchie's office helped set up a link where people so inclined can donate money to Copper Fiddle to support their production of sanitizer for first responders. To donate click here.

Macker said regular sales have pretty much dried up since coronavirus fears shut down their taproom and others like it in the state. He said if Copper Fiddle receives enough donations he would like to produce a batch of sanitizer to sell to regular customers.

As bad as things may seem, Macker was upbeat Friday.

"We are going to get through this," Macker said.

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