Montreal distillery pivots from gin to hand sanitizer for the homeless

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A Montreal distillery has added itself to the growing list of alcohol-makers pivoting to hand sanitizer.

As of Friday, Cirka Distilleries, which normally focuses on gin, rum and whiskey is producing de-natured alcohol, following a recipe for 85 per cent alcohol hand sanitizer published by the World Health Organization.

Spokesperson Victoria Slodki said Health Canada rushed to give the go-ahead.

“They've been able to get us our approvals and licenses in under a week,” she said.

The company expects to make up to 10,000 bottles of sanitizer per week, which will go to Montreal's most at-risk population. Slodki said product is not being sold, but donated to the city.

“Our number one priority is they're actually going to be delivering them to homeless shelters around the city,” said Slodki. “The number one thing we're all working on is we want to help our communities.”

The distillery is not the only Montreal-area company that has pivoted in recent week. Labbatt is also churning out hand sanitizer while hockey equipment company Bauer is making medical gear at its Blainville facility, which is mostly being sold to the federal government.

“They will purchase 1 million units and this morning I just confirmed another 500,000” said spokesperson Dan Bourgeois. 

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