Sagamore Spirit is nearing the start of production of large quantities of antimicrobial hand sanitizer to help meet the urgent needs of healthcare workers and first responders on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Maryland Rye distiller has procured materials sufficient to manufacture an initial 54,000 liters of hand sanitizer that will first be made available to Maryland health providers including Johns Hopkins, which has been advising the company on manufacturing the vital sanitizer to WHO and FDA standards for safety and efficacy.
If certain supply chain and regulatory challenges can be solved, the company is prepared to produce up to 100,000 liters of sanitizer per month. First, Sagamore Spirit needs to procure packaging that became in short supply once COVID-19’s potential domestic impact was realized. Next, Congress needs to temporarily waive an arcane statute during this healthcare crisis that requires the use of isopropyl alcohol for denaturing, which the WHO deems unnecessary to manufacture safe and effective hand sanitizer. Sagamore Spirit has procured enough isopropyl alcohol to produce the initial 54,000-liter run, but since it is in short supply, the distiller’s ability to expand to the potential 100,000-liter monthly production level entirely depends on Congress’s willingness to waive the denaturing requirement.
Sagamore Spirit has been closely monitoring developments in non-traditional hand sanitizer production, including efforts made by other distillers. The company immediately began studying what compliant manufacturing at a meaningful scale would entail before starting production, with a goal to sustainably produce and supply hand sanitizer to Maryland’s healthcare workers and first responders. Sagamore’s manufacturing capacity could potentially supply needs beyond Maryland, as well.
“There is no higher priority than serving the growing and vital needs of the health professionals who are selflessly giving of themselves for the greater good of all,” said Brian Treacy, President of Sagamore Spirit. “Everyone at Sagamore Spirit feels it in their hearts and is prepared to contribute to this global effort the best they possibly can. We feel fortunate to have not only the will, but also the expertise and manufacturing capacity to make a difference, and at a meaningful level if Congress chooses to act.” Treacy said the company was following in the spirit and example of its Baltimore distilling predecessors, which rose to the challenge of WW2 by becoming one of the nation’s major supplies of vital ethanol.
Sagamore Spirit is urging the community to support the efforts of the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) to waive the punitive federal excise taxes on undenatured alcohol used to produce hand sanitizer and disinfectant sprays. More information can be found here.
About Sagamore Spirit
Sagamore Spirit opened its award-winning five-acre waterfront distillery campus in Baltimore in April 2017. Since then, nearly 100,000 guests have visited the campus and tasted the brand’s 50-time award-winning rye whiskies. Each batch of whiskey is made with pure spring-fed Maryland water. The distillation team blends two different rye mash bills — a high rye and a low rye — and then adds limestone-filtered spring water transported 22 miles from Sagamore Farm, to create an 83 proof Maryland-style rye whiskey. 100 percent of Sagamore Rye is cut to proof with this distinct water. Sagamore Spirit is committed to inspiring a global passion for Maryland Rye Whiskey.