Local distillers lend a hand making free hand sanitiser for Borders care providers

Distillers in the Borders are producing hand sanitiser gel for local front-line care providers amid a shortfall during the coronavirus pandemic.

Wednesday, 1st April 2020, 9:34 am
John Fordyce at The Borders Distillery, Hawick.

Both the Borders Distillery in Hawick and Selkirk Distillers are making the much-needed product for care groups in this region, as well as continuing production of whisky and gin, respectively.

John Fordyce, co-founder and director of the Three Stills Company, which owns the Borders Distillery, said: “We are making some hand sanitiser using Scottish Government guidelines for donation to the local community only.

“We have been making it for the likes of local care homes, sorting offices and funeral parlours, and handing it out. The Scottish Government has been really good in setting out clear guidelines for us to follow. We are following a World Health Organisation (WHO) recipe. As long as you are making alcohol, like we are, it’s relatively simple to make sanitiser.

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“We have already handed out 140 bottles and as soon as we get the ingredients in we are making more.”

The Commercial Road distillery, opened in 2018, employs 16 staff, but has closed its visitor centre and shop for now. Staff directly involved in production are still managing to work, while others are doing so from home or are on furlough.

Mr Fordyce added: “We are following government guidelines and producing spirit on those guidelines. We are managing to carry on producing and keeping our people in good spirits.

“The big companies are fully plugged into the supply chain for the Scottish Government, but we are producing it on a very small scale. It’s all about community support. We’re donating it as it would be rude to request money at this stage in the game.”

Selkirk Distillers has ceased gin production at its Philiphaugh distillery to produce WHO-approved sanitiser. Owner Allan Walker and his wife, Jane, have handed out around 82 litres to SB Cares, Alzheimer Scotland charity and Selkirk Resilience Group.

“We did some for local firms which were desperate too,” Mr Walker said. “We will do what we can to help and are expecting to get a stock of ingredients in soon to make more.”