Virginia distilleries donating hand sanitizer to first responders, healthcare workers in valley
Across Afton Mountain, two distilleries are helping organizations here in the Shenandoah Valley by making and donating hand sanitizer.
Ragged Branch Distillery in Albemarle County and Silverback Distillery in Nelson County are making high proof alcohol and donating it to first responders and other healthcare workers, including to Augusta Health and Augusta County Fire-Rescue.
"Over about three weeks, we've made close to 450 gallons," Lauren Riggleman Weller, general manager of Silverback Distillery, said.
Those gallons of hand sanitizer are being bottled up and donated throughout the state.
"The response from the community has been incredible," Riggleman Weller said. "As soon as we started making hand sanitizer, we had people and organizations reaching out and asking how they could help."
Ragged Branch Distillery is also donating high proof alcohol. Managing Partner Alex Toomy was surprised by the need, but said they were happy to help.
"I thought it was crazy. I couldn't believe there was going to be a shortage on high proof alcohol," Toomy said. "But when there was, we have something we call a recovery run, and we dedicated our recovery run to making high proof alcohol."
Typically, Ragged Branch makes bourbon, and they weren't sure they could be able to distill alcohol at the right proof at first. When they found out they could, they started donating it.
"We have a partner, and his daughter is with Augusta First Aid, and they asked if he could come over and get some, and then Augusta Medical asked to get some," Toomy said.
Both Toomy and Riggleman Weller said they've had a great response from the community.
"They've been so incredibly grateful, they've been so kind. They're excited to come support us once we're open again," Riggleman Weller said.
"The response has been unbelieveable," Toomy said. "Since we've started delivering and shipping, people are really supporting the fact that we're supporting local essential services."
Riggleman Weller said they've had close to 1,000 requests for hand sanitizer, and they'll continue making it as long as they are able. Toomy said they have about 70 gallons available now for donation.