In the fifth episode of the #LoudounPossible Pod, our special guest is Scott Harris, co-owner and general manager of Catoctin Creek Distillery.
Under normal conditions, Catoctin Creek is Loudoun’s oldest distillery (2009) and first to open in the county since the end of Prohibition. The distillery’s spirits, including its award-winning Roundstone Rye Whisky, are sold on nearly every continent around the world.
With the COVID-19 outbreak, they were one of the first businesses to pivot production, going from drinking alcohol to sanitary alcohol for use by first responders and the public. At a time when stores were sold out of cleaning products, Catoctin Creek offered a local solution with very low margins.
Needless to say, demand has far outpaced supply.
“It’s been crazy, and it’s been like [two] weeks since we started this whole venture and I just can’t believe where we’re at at this point,” Harris told #LoudounPossible Pod host and Loudoun Economic Development Executive Director Buddy Rizer. “To stand here and think that this little whisky company that we started is now making commercial, FDA-registered and approved hand sanitizer is something I never thought we’d enter into.
“When this crisis first hit, we have large drums of what we consider ‘disposal alcohol.’ This is some of the cuts of the whisky and gin-making process that aren’t safe to drink and have no value in the beverage format. So what we have typically done in the past is take those to the county and recycle it. It will get further recycled into octane-boosting for your car (ethanol in your gasoline).
“Here we had a drum of this stuff, and it met the WHO/CDC guidelines for being a high enough percentage alcohol to be useful as a sanitizer. So that’s what we started out [doing]: giving it away. We had about 55 gallons of it and it was gone in about three days.”
Since then, Harris has been contacted for supplies by dozens of law enforcement agencies, hospitals, grocery stores, statewide emergency management, and federal agencies like the FAA.
Keeping our social distance, y'all! But still going crazy filling those first responder orders! I'm so so proud of this team, doing it while keeping their spirits up! Making it happen. We're now over halfway on our first responders list. BIG progress today!!
— Catoctin Creek ? (@catoctincreek) April 2, 2020