Duluth Business Owners Turn Their Distillery Into Source Of Hand Sanitizer To Fight COVID-19

Vikre Distillery even claims Mayo Clinic has come to them seeking hand sanitizer.

Image Credit: Instagram/Vikre Distillery

A pair of Minnesota small business owners have transformed their distillery into a source of free hand sanitizer amidst COVID-19-induced shortages.

Husband and wife Joel and Emily Vikre own and operate Vikre distillery in Duluth, Minnesota. Normally, Vikre produces gin, vodka and whiskey, but since hand sanitizer has become scarce, the distillery has started using its alcohol to supplement the supply– for free.

“If you happen to be in possession of hundreds of gallons of ethanol, it’s  an easy thing to do,” the distillery told MPR.

Vikre’s new product is in high demand. they claim Mayo Clinic called, asking for some on Tuesday, according to MPR. Other recipients include a homeless shelter, the Duluth Police department, grocery stores and individuals in need.

Duluth Mayor Emily Larson also paid Vikre a visit, Tuesday, to express her gratefulness that the business is contributing so generously to the community, reports MPR.

Joel Vikre says the demand for his sanitizer will likely cost him thousands of dollars– a price he’s willing to pay.

“But it’s worth it to us,” he said. “This is the community that supports us, and this is something we can do to respond to the need right now.

While the distillery isn’t officially open, Duluth residents are welcome to visit “between 12-5pm” to pick up sanitizer, according to the business’s Instagram. Vikre also says it is accepting donations in the form of grocery cards that will be distributed to its employees during the present economic downturn.

This isn’t the first time the Vikres have helped those in need. Joel left medical school to start to internationally recognized non-profits to combat HIV-AIDS and to bring clean water to Africa, according to the company website. He’s also worked with nuns to bring healthcare to Tijuana, Mexico, and his wife holds a PhD in food policy and behavioral theory and is a nationally acclaimed food and drink writer.

It’s important to note that most consumer-grade alcohol is not a worthy substitute for the high-proof alcohol in hand sanitizer. After a series of recipes for homemade hand sanitizers using off the shelf booze went viral last week, Tito’s Vodka had to clarify that liquor for drinking isn’t potent enough to fill this role.


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Kyle Hooten

Kyle Hooten is Managing Editor of Alpha News. His coverage of Minneapolis has been featured on television shows like Tucker Carlson Tonight and in print media outlets like the Wall Street Journal.