Distiller Jason Hannay turned to making hand sanitiser to fill a hole in the market.
Distiller Jason Hannay turned to making hand sanitiser to fill a hole in the market.

Craft hand sanitiser sales 'grind to halt'

AFTER turning to producing hand sanitiser to fill a hole in the market due to COVID-19, gin maker Jason Hannay said sales have "ground to a halt".

Mr Hannay, who set up his Imbibis Craft Distillery business in the old Warrego Winery, amended his licence to make sanitiser a couple of months ago.

He was overwhelmed with the initial response.

With the sale of his gin down, sanitiser was helping to plug the gap.

The processes for making the two products are very similar.

"We had a fairly good April when all the craft distilleries were helping out with the supply," he said.

"Now that the bigger suppliers are back online, they can basically make it for a lot cheaper than what we can.

"We can no longer compete."

Mr Hannay has processed about 400L of sanitiser but doesn't plan to produce anymore for the time being.

He has about 100 500ML bottles and 90 1L bottles left for sale.

"The initial run was quite successful," he said.

"Then we did a second batch and it actually cost us more to manufacture than the first batch because of labels and batch sizes.

"In this kind of situation, it's hard (for people) to support local and craft produce when they know there's cheaper stuff available.

"I sacrificed my neutral alcohol that I was going to turn into gin to make the sanitiser.

"There are a lot of distilleries that basically bought in their neutral spirit to turn into sanitiser. The cost per bottle when you buy the neutral alcohol in is a lot cheaper.

"I was only producing about 25L of sanitiser a day."

The sanitiser will remain on as an Imbibis product but won't be a core part of the business.

Mr Hannay's focus now turns back to gin.

His first batch sold out and he said sales have been "petering along".

The spirit is for sale in bottle shops and venues locally and in Brisbane.

The business has reverted to online sales and Mr Hannay is hand-delivering bottles to customers.

"I'm now almost out of my batch two gin and I've just distilled batch three," he said.

"We'll be bottling that hopefully later this week so we will have gin ready for when all the establishments open up again.

"We're just trying to do things just to keep the business going at the moment."

The production of the hand sanitiser was done in partnership with Ballistic Brewery at Springfield.

Read more stories by Lachlan McIvor