Central New York distillers switch from making spirits to also producing hand sanitizer

Local News

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Several local distillers in Central New York have stepped up to fill a critical need for essential businesses still operating amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

After seeing it done in Monroe County, the Onondaga County Medical Society reached out to see if it could be done here in Central New York.

“For 200 years what we do is trying to make sure that physicians have what they need to practice quality medicine and protect the health of the community,” Medical Society Executive Director Erika Barry tells NewsChannel 9.

Barry says it’s not just for doctors and nurses but even people who work in the office and help patients who must still go a healthcare providers office.

She reached out the CenterState CEO to see if they could help pull this idea together.

“Really it started with one outreach to someone who’s a local distiller who then spread it out among his network and they came to us,” CenterState CEO Vice President Kevin Schwab tells NewsChannel 9.

Aaron Carvell, owner of Old Home Distillers says, “Right up until probably about two weeks ago we were more or less business as usual, did not have a really good grasp at how important our work was going to end up being.”

Aaron Carvell and his brother Adam are distillers, making small batch whiskey and other spirits in Lebanon, southern Madison County.

But that’s not the only thing they’re needed for now.

“Something as seemingly simple as hand sanitizer is one of those critical elements to helping stop the spread of this disease,”

With a few small tweaks, Old Home Distillers was suddenly in the hand sanitizer business.

“For us we’re very grateful that people want to rely on us. We’re grateful that we have the opportunity to be relied on for a service that people aren’t able to get elsewhere,” Carvell tells NewsChannel 9

Barry adds, “When Kevin Schwab reached back out to me the next day and said they are making progress it was just such a win, especially in a week where we needed some wins.”

“We’ve had a lot of folks step up. In some instances it’s folks stepping forward and saying I’m not sure how I can help, but I want to help,” Schwab says.

CenterState is coordinating distribution of hand sanitizer from a group of distillers to healthcare providers, from hospitals to doctor’s office, first responders and even essential businesses who need to work but also want to keep their employees safe.

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