Journeyman Distillery in Three Oaks, Michigan, gave out more than 400 bottles of hand sanitizer to the public this weekend, raising more than $13,000 in spirits sales for its employees who have been furloughed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Requests for bulk hand sanitizer started rolling in, so the distillery just across the state line in Southwest Michigan started an online store selling hand sanitizer by the barrel. It quickly sold out of the initial batch.
Valparaiso native and Journeyman founder Bill Welter switched the distillery over to bottling hand sanitizer as soon as it was allowed by the state and federal government, just days after Michigan temporarily closed bars and restricted restaurants to carry-out and delivery.
“There was no question about what we would do," Welter said.
Other area distilleries, including 18th Street Distillery, 3 Floyds Distilling, and Thornton Distilling Co., have also switched over to making hand sanitizer during the COVID-19 public health crisis.
It's not the first time that the historic factory at 109 Generations Drive, which used to make buggy whips and corsets, was mobilized for public service.
“In the early 1940s, the Warren Featherbone Company supported the war effort by manufacturing raincoats for the U.S. Armed Forces,” Welter said. “Now, almost 80 years later, we’ve converted our production facility in the historic Featherbone factory to make hand sanitizer for front-line health care and essential service providers — as well as our community.”
After a flood of requests, Journeyman is now taking online orders of bulk hand sanitizers – from 1.75 liter bottles to 55 gallon barrels. The supply is temporarily sold out.
“It’s been a challenge but we’re proud to be here — for our customers, employees and community,” Welter said.
For more information, visit journeymandistillery.com/sanitizer.