ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — New Mexico distilleries are coming together to do their part in helping the community stay healthy during a delicate time.
The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on supplies such as hand sanitizer.
Word spread fast about Broken Trail Distillery & Brewery giving away personal-size bottles of sanitizer to patrons. It did not take long before local police and fire departments contacted the business for help.
“One thing that has been really cool is we started with 2-ounce bottles given away for free and we were able to provide all this sanitizer to the fire department, the police department,” said Matt Simonds, Broken Trail Brewery & Distillery owner. “We’ve got everyone from post office carriers to U.S. Marshals, hospitals, that are begging us to help them with their sanitizer needs. So the New Mexico Distillers Guild has actually banded together to try to do our best to provide as much sanitizer as we can for as many people as we can. It has truly turned into a collaborative effort unlike anything I’ve ever seen in the industry.”
The process has not been without challenge but Broken Trail joining forces with other local distilleries, such as Left Turn Distilling and Tractor Brewing Company’s distillery line Trouble Minds, has allowed for the continued production of sanitizer. Members of the New Mexico Brewers Guild have also contributed by providing much needed yeast.
“One challenge we’re running up against, and this is every distillery in the country right now is begging for neutral grain spirit, which is basically factory made Everclear,” Simonds said. “So like everyone else we’re asking all our suppliers, all of our people what can we get and the supply chain is starting to dry up. We were running low on really good yeast so we sent our request to the (New Mexico) Brewers Guild and the response from that has been really cool. One thing I am really proud of is the amount of cooperation that all the breweries and distilleries have been putting forth to provide what seems to be a basic need.”
People in high-risk career fields who are interested in obtaining sanitizer can contact Simonds via email at Matt@brokentrailspirits.com.
Sanitizer to go
Vara Winery & Distillery began giving its customers a 2-ounce bottle of sanitizer with their purchase of wine, whiskey, brandy, or with food take-out orders as a way of saying thank you for their patronage, according to Doug Diefenthaler, Vara owner, chief operating officer and executive vice president.
Vara made 60 gallons of 80% alcohol sanitizer. Supplies of containers are scarce but Vara was able to secure 250 2-ounce bottles to fill. Patrons have an option of either the pre-filled bottles or bringing their own empty bottle to be filled as long as it is 8 ounces or less. The sanitizer can be used on hands or used for cleaning and disinfecting items or surfaces.
Patrons can make their wine and spirits purchases as well as take-out food orders at varawines.com. Customers can opt to come into Vara’s lobby to pick up their order or can call from the parking lot and have their orders brought out to their vehicle. As an additional incentive, patrons will receive a case discount whether they are buying 12 bottles or only one.
“This is our way to thank our community that has decided they like us for whatever reason whether it’s the food, the music or the wine, the whiskey or the brandy, whatever it happens to be,” Diefenthaler said. “This is our way of thanking them and just saying we know that your time is tough, you’re pressed, you’re cooped up or your possibly dealing with some sick folks some place and you need something. Have some tapas, some Garnacha Rosado, and here’s some sanitizer for you too.”
Keeping up spirits
Santa Fe Spirits saw the same need for sanitizer and decided to follow suit in making it available to its patrons and the community.
“With our tasting rooms closed, with the restaurants closed, we have more time on our hands and we thought this is something to help other people,” said Colin Keegan, owner of Santa Fe Spirits. “We have to charge to cover our costs so we can employ people and cover the cost of the packaging but that’s really about it. We’re just doing something good in these dire times and keeping our body and soul together for we don’t know how long, as everybody is.
The distillery has had no issue producing sanitizer. The hurdle has been finding bottles and containers to distribute it in. The distillery plans on making 4-ounce bottles, 30-ounce bottles and gallon containers filled with its sanitizer available soon. Pricing for the sanitizer is still in the works but Keegan is hoping to keep the 4-ounce bottles in the $3 to $5 range and the 30-ounce bottles possibly at $15. The gallon size is to be determined. Santa Fe Spirits patrons interested in adding sanitizer to their spirit order can do so by calling the distillery at 505-467-8892. Their orders will be taken out to them curbside when they arrive at its main location at 7505 Mallard Way, Suite I in Santa Fe.