Local distillery makes hand sanitizer to help fight COVID-19
MADISON COUNTY, Tenn. — When the COVID-19 pandemic started, many business models were turned upside down.
It happened to the Samuel T. Bryant Distillery as well. Owner Samuel Bryant said it was a rough patch.
“We’re primarily a tourist business. About 65 to 70 percent of our business comes from interstate traffic, and for a while there, there wasn’t any interstate traffic,” Bryant said.
So when the government authorized distilleries to make hand sanitizer, Bryant’s company jumped on board.
The production was vital to keeping the business open.
“With the hand sanitizer, we didn’t have to lay anybody off. We managed to keep everybody going through this, and it kept our sales relatively high, all things considered,” Bryant said. “We were using all our good beverage product to make hand sanitizer, which is not the ideal use for good brandy and whiskey, but it’s what we had to work with.”
The switch took some time to get used to and supplies were hard to come by.
“There was a lot of learning curve, and a lot trying to find supplies, because the supply chains were totally disrupted there for quite a while,” Bryant said.
But soon enough the distillery got back on its feet.
“We may have been making anywhere from 25 to 75 gallons a day. That was all we had available at that time,” Bryant said. “We were selling primarily to businesses, but we sold a lot to individuals too. But most places that were buying at first by word of mouth, were the plants that had to have it to stay operational.”
Bryant plans to get back into the normal swing of things in the next couple months.
“The stuff that we would have been selling two to three years out, it’s all gone now. So we have to regenerate that at some point in time,” Bryant said. “You don’t start a distillery thinking you’re going to be keeping factories open, but that’s the reality of what happened.”
The distillery still has plenty of sanitizer left to sell.
“If anybody needs some for your companies, or individuals, we would be glad to provide that, and we have substantial inventory left over that needs to find a home,” Bryant said.
Bryant says they plan to reopen their event hosting service soon as well.