Alcohol industry working together to make up for the shortfall in ethanol and hand sanitiser

Until the outbreak of COVID-19 there were predictions that the gin market would grow annually by 4.7% (CAGR 2020-2023). This comes after the consistent popularity of gin with more than 100 gin distilleries around today compared to less than ten, just six years ago.

According to Drinks Trade Australia, gin experienced the largest growth from the 12 months prior to March 2020 rising from 7.4% to 9% of Australians consuming the drink in an average four-week period. Bourbon, vodka and dark rum sales also grew by 7.5%, 6.4%, and 4.2% respectively.

This has been reflected in the increase of sales at Swanny Cellars and the growing selection of gins from around the world including The West Winds, Gordons, Four Pillars, Tanqueray and Bombay Sapphire.

Gin selection at Swanny Cellars


However due to the current pandemic, along with the closure of hotels, bars and restaurants and the new alcohol purchasing restrictions (see details here on the DLGSC site), the sales of gin may actually decrease during the pandemic. But this does not necessarily mean more job losses and business closures. With the shortages of hand sanitiser and ethanol, many distilleries are now focusing on a different business venture; helping the community by keeping their staff employed and their production lines open in order to distil ethanol instead.


Republic of Fremantle hand sanitiser at Swanny Cellars

Distilleries making up the short fall in ethanol and hand sanitiser

With the current pandemic, there is now an unprecedented need for personal protective equipment. For many of us, seeing empty shelves once lined with hand sanitiser (as well as toilet paper and pasta) has become the new norm. It is said during hard times, people and communities are brought together. An example of this is in the alcohol industry where they have chosen to make up this short fall because it is the right thing to do and it keeps people in jobs, both of which is paramount at this time.

Wine is one of the sources used to create ethanol that can then be used as the base ingredient for hand sanitiser.  In order to do this the wine needs to be distilled twice to bring the alcohol level up from around 13% in the wine up to around 85% in the ethanol. The ethanol produced can then be used by the distillery to make hand sanitiser or sold to commercial produces as the base ingredient.

Many distilleries around the world are now either stopping the production of gin all together or distilling alcohol into ethanol in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some of these companies  focusing on producing ethanol or making hand sanitiser include the below:

  • Illegal Tender Rum
  • Bundaberg Rum
  • Beenleigh Rum
  • Archie Rose Distilling Co.
  • SevenZeroEight
  • Manly Spirits Co.
  • Wise Wines
  • Four Pillars Gin
  • Prohibition Liquor Co
  • Southern Wild
  • Mr Black Coffee Liqueur
  • The Republic of Fremantle – we currently stock this hand sanitiser at Swanny Cellars


Republic of Fremantle hand sanitiser

World-wide efforts to fight the coronavirus pandemic

It isn’t just Australian distilleries that are making hand sanitiser. According to Business, around the world Bristol’s Psychopomp Micro-distillery, London’s 58 Gin, Absolut Vodka and Jameson Irish Whiskey are focusing on producing hand sanitiser.

Luxury brands such as LVMH are to produce hand sanitiser while Prada is making 80,000 hospital gowns and 110,000 masks for healthcare professionals.

Apple is donating millions of masks, Tesla and Dyson are providing ventilators, Zara, will donate masks to coronavirus patients and health officials in Spain while Ford, GE, and 3M are partnering to build ventilators and protective equipment. Details on other companies producing PPE during the pandemic are described in Business Insider.

Stay well and stay safe.


Swanbourne Cellars does not endorse making hand sanitiser at home.