Brett Durand from Durand Distillery usually makes premium gin using Australian Native Botanicals and runs a Gin School at Maggie Beer’s Farm in Nuriootpa.
But when SA Health regulations following the COVID-19 pandemic temporarily ended his gin-making classes in mid-March, he decided to devote his time and still to making sanitiser instead.
“Half the business had to fold itself overnight, at the stroke of a pen, which is understandable for safety’s sake,” Durand says.
“This freed us up to focus on the distillery side, which is manufacturing spirits and one that we can make is clean ethanol.
“A lot of distilleries have gone on stream with making 70 per cent alcohol for a sanitiser product.”
Durand Distillery ramped up production to 50 bottles of sanitiser a day, but had to wait until this week for permission from the Australian Taxation Office to begin sales.
Durand is receiving requests nationwide for his spray sanitiser, but his aim is to initially supply the Barossa Valley.
There is presently a sanitiser shortage in the region, as the community takes precautions to stop the spread of coronavirus after 34 cases were linked to the region.
Many schools in the area have been closed due to the cluster.
Durand donated his first batch of 40 bottles of spray sanitiser to boutique hotel The Louise, after a group of American tourists who were staying there tested positive for COVID-19.
“This helped them clean up after these patients were transferred to the RAH,” he says.
Durand makes the sanitiser by extracting ethanol from unwanted wine he sources from his local wine-producing friends.
“To make the simple spray that we are offering it is just simply a denatured ethanol product, which is undrinkable, and we add some vanilla bean to it,” he says.
Durand usually uses Australian Native Botanicals to make his gin, but has ruled out using these in his sanitiser because they are quite pricey.
“I wouldn’t want to spend some of my more expensive botanicals on something people are going to spray the toilet seat with, or their doorknobs or car steering wheel,” he says.
“It would probably be better to save botanicals for something better like gin.
“Vanilla bean packs a hell of a punch and it is a pleasant smell that doesn’t offend anyone, as opposed to a strong lemon or lime scent.”
Like many businesses across the nation, the COVID-19 pandemic has been a significant financial blow to Durand Distillery.
Durand works in the distillery on his own and had been hoping to employ staff, but this has been delayed.
“Just weeks before, we had been ramping up our gin school and our production of gin in the hope we could employ people,” he says.
Durand Distillery has also experienced a decline in gin sales and making the sanitiser is providing some financial relief.
Durand is making his spray sanitiser available to people living in the Barossa through advertising on local online community forums.
It retails for $25 for a 500ml bottle.
Durand Distillery’s craft gin can still be purchased online and is also available through its distribution partners.
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