Stillwrights distillery in Bath Twp. near Fairborn is producing hand sanitizer for Wright-Patterson Air Force Base

Fairborn distillery converts $100K worth of rum into hand sanitizer for WPAFB

‘I wish I could do more,’ co-founder of Stillwrights says of Wright-Pat request

The co-founder of Flat Rock Spirits — the Bath Twp. distillery that makes Stillwrights bourbon, rum and moonshine products — says he was “inundated with calls and emails asking if we could produce hand sanitizer for various groups and individuals.”

But the distillery is already cranking out as much high-proof alcohol and turning it into sanitizer for a group at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, and already can’t keep up with demand, Brad Measel told this news outlet.

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“It’s been overwhelming at times to have to tell so many people that we cannot produce enough to supply their needs,” Measel said. “I wish we could do more.”

The Stillwrights/Flat Rock Spirits distillery is located at 5380 Intrastate Drive near I-675 and State Route 444. It produces a straight bourbon whiskey, three variations of rum and a line of flavored 70-proof moonshine products, along with one “Traditional Recipe” moonshine that weighs in at over 100 proof.

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Distilleries in the Dayton area and across the country have joined the effort to quickly produce high-proof alcohol used in germ-killing hand wash during the coronavirus pandemic. Belle of Dayton in Dayton’s Oregon District is on the process of distilling at least 1,000 gallons of excess wine from The Winery at Versailles into high-proof alcohol. 

Measel said he and distillery officials were approached by a group from WPAFB in mid-March. 

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At first glance, Measel was skeptical his distillery could do what was asked, because hand sanitizer is regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as an over-the-counter drug, which has licensing regulations in place that could have delayed production by months, the distiller’s co-owner said. 

“I originally told the gentleman we wouldn't be able to produce hand sanitizer for them. But the next day, the FDA put out of memo indicating that they we're going to loosen the restrictions to a point that made it more feasible for us to get involved,” Measel said.

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Stillwrights had on hand 12 batches of what was originally intended to be Stillwrights Rum, and which was ready to be bottled. At retail, the batches would have been worth about $100,000, Measel said. Instead, Stillwrights began re-distilling the spirit to produce 190-proof alcohol for the group at the base. 

“They had asked if we could supply them with 5,000 eight ounce bottles of hand sanitizer,” Measel said.

Tracking down packaging, labels and ingredients for the final sanitizer proved difficult and time-consuming. Plus, Stillwrights has a whiskey still, which works slowly to make high-proof alcohol, Mesel said.

“We are producing as much as we can, but we can’t provide all they asked for,” the Stillwrights co-owner said. “We have shipped around 2,000 of the 5,000 they asked for.” 

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