The outbreak of the coronavirus in the UK has led to an increased demand for antibacterial hand sanitiser. The World Health Organisation (WHO) expects health professionals to need 2.9 billion litres of this critical product per month during the pandemic.
Located near Market Drayton, the craft distillery is a relatively new start-up having only launched its range of premium gins, vodka and rum in December 2019. Sales had been steadily increasing with bars, restaurants and hotels across Staffordshire and Shropshire stocking the premium alcohol.
Licensed distiller Tony Hobbs, owner of Tranquil Still, was discussing a contract with a distributor to supply 300 outlets, when Boris Johnson ordered the closure of all UK pubs and restaurants.
In response to the shortage of hand sanitiser, Tony switched his resources to making an 80 per cent alcohol hand sanitiser using a formula recommended by the World Health Organisation.
He said: “The increased need for hand sanitiser has left the UK, and the rest of the world, with a massive shortage, which was not helped by early panic buying. I have family members who work frontline, including in the RAF and NHS, so I was concerned about their health, and also the safety of all our frontline staff and key workers.
“Luckily, what would have been a complicated process to make the switch has been simplified massively and swiftly by HMRC, meaning I’ve already been able to make enough to clean over a million pairs of hands.”
The hand sanitiser, sold in 25-litre containers, is called Handi Saniti, a nod towards his former career as a clinical psychologist.
Tony has so far supplied key frontline agencies nationwide and donated some of his hand sanitiser to NHS staff and other key workers across Staffordshire and Shropshire.
“It’s been a real challenge to source the ingredients, which are obviously in high demand and you now pay a premium for,” added Tony.
“As a small distillery I can’t buy in bulk, so this also affects my costs.
“I’m still selling all my drinks that I have in stock and yes I’d rather be making more. But right now, I’m just happy I can play my own part and in a small way help those people who are busy protecting us on the frontline.”
Tony hopes that he will eventually be able to return to making his hand-crafted spirits, which include his sipping ‘Round the Garden’ gin, plus a damson gin – made with damsons from the tree featured on the Tranquil Still logo, a vodka, and a Navy-strength spiced white rum.