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Friday, April 10, 2020

Buellton distillery trades spirits for sanitizer

Posted By on Fri, Apr 10, 2020 at 9:16 AM

Instead of distilling alcohol to drink, Jay Lockwood, the owner of DorWood Distillery in Buellton, is using his equipment to make hand sanitizer to assist first responders and health care workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In early April he stopped making spirits—which include vodka, tequila, whiskey, gin, and limoncello—and transitioned to making hand sanitizer. He said he felt obligated to help out with having the necessary equipment at his disposal.

“We’re all in this together and whatever each one of us can do, we have to give back to the good of the country,” Lockwood said.

With the expectation of a few ingredients, the process isn’t too dissimilar from making his usual spirits, he said. Although given the other companies that are also chipping in and making hand sanitizer right now, it’s been difficult to find bottles.
click to enlarge IT’S STILL ALCOHOL Jay Lockwood, the owner of DorWood Distillery in Buellton, is making hand sanitizer to help during the COVID-19 pandemic. - PHOTO COURTESY DORWOOD DISTILLERY
  • IT’S STILL ALCOHOL Jay Lockwood, the owner of DorWood Distillery in Buellton, is making hand sanitizer to help during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s the same thing as making vodka,” Lockwood said. “And then we add glycerine and hydrogen peroxide to it for the cleaning agents.”

Lockwood said he’ll finish production on the first few batches of sanitizer within the next week. He’s anticipating that he’ll have enough to fill between 200 to 400 8-ounce bottles and between 100 to 200 2-ounce bottles.

He plans to distribute these bottles to first responders, hospitals, and senior citizen communities. Because he runs a smaller distillery and he’s only able to produce about 30 gallons at a time, he’s not sure how many bottles will be left to sell to the public. Although he’s hoping that’ll change in the future.

“If everything goes the way we want it to, we’ll continue making a hand sanitizer,” Lockwood said. “Once we get up to that, we’ll keep some here for people who want to buy it.”

After these first batches of sanitizer, Lockwood is hoping to start working on his spirits again and split his time between the two. Like so many other people, he’s been hit hard by health orders that have closed businesses, such as his tasting room. The loss is partially offset by California’s decision to allow distilleries to ship their products throughout the state during this time, but not enough.

“Our sales aren’t like what they were before—we’re off 90 percent,” Lockwood said.

To boost sales, Lockwood said he’s offering customers a 25 percent discount on all purchases, as well as free delivery to customers live between Santa Maria and Santa Barbara—depending on how many bottles they purchase. But right now, his focus is on helping first responders and health care workers.

“I want to take care of the people that have to take care of the sick … the people on the front line,” Lockwood said. ∆
—Zac Ezzone
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