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Seattle distillery racing to give away hand sanitizer before federal deadline

Copperworks Distilling Co., which made thousands of bottles of hand sanitizer during the pandemic, is trying to distribute free leftovers.

SEATTLE — A Seattle distillery that made thousands of bottles of hand sanitizer during the pandemic is now racing to give away boxes of it.

“I'd love people to come get hand sanitizer, as much as they want,” said Jason Parker, co-founder and president of Copperworks Distilling Company.

Let's rewind to early 2020.

The world ran out of hand sanitizer, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) made an emergency rule allowing distillers to start making it.

Alcohol is their specialty, right?

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“All of the local and network distillers networked together, we formed websites, we formed chat groups, we talked to each other,” Parker said.

Demand soared, and it kept the Copperworks team working when pretty much everything else shut down.

“Our phone was ringing off the hook. We had people from the Army and Navy calling. All of the medical facilities called at one point. Everybody was on a waiting list,” Parker said.

But after a few months, the orders just stopped.

China and Mexico had ramped up production and made the stuff cheaper.

Today, Copperworks is left with about 50,000 bottles of their craft sanitizer, stacked on 22 pallets.

“We're giving it away as fast as we can, but time is running out,” Parker said.

That's because the FDA's distillery rule expires in March. After that, Copperworks and others can no longer distribute their sanitizer.

They'll have to destroy any leftovers, and it'll cost them a lot of money because they can't just dump them.

Copperworks is once again busy making spirits and the boxes of sanitizer are taking up space they should be using for whiskey casks.  

They're looking for non-profits, companies, anyone to pick up a free pallet, or at least a few boxes, so they can get back to business.

“Take as much hand sanitizer as you can, find a good home for it,” Parker said.