#Covid-19: Micill Distillery in Galway to begin production of hand sanitiser amid coronavirus outbreak
Micill Distillery in Galway have become the latest distillery to begin producing hand sanitiser amid the Covid-19 crisis.
The Micil family, who have been distilling poitín for over 170 years, paused production of their hand-crafted spirits for the first time since 1848 this week.
The decision was made in an effort to free up the distillery’s supply of alcohol and begin manufacturing antibacterial hand sanitiser to help meet local demand in the face of the recent Covid-19 crisis.
“Like many others, we had been looking to our neighbours abroad to see how the situation around the virus was developing when we discovered that distilleries in the US and Scotland had started producing hand sanitiser due to shortages. Conscious that similar issues were arising here in Ireland, we were eager to use our resources to provide a solution,” Micil Distillery’s founder, Pádraic Ó Griallais, said.
“The problem we faced unfortunately was as such a small-scale family distillery, we were unsure logistically how we could upscale our production to make the quantities of alcohol required. We also had to factor in the excise duty on spirits which, at almost €43 per litre of pure alcohol in Ireland, was making the costs appear prohibitive.”
After hearing that the Revenue had waived the excise duties for some of the larger corporate distilleries in Ireland to allow them to produce hand sanitiser, Ó Griallais reached out to them with a similar request.
His local Revenue office, as well as the Health Service Executive (HSE) and the Department of Agriculture, granted Ó Griallais these same permissions last week.
And after connecting with a packaging supplier through Micil Distillery’s social media channels, production was able to begin on the very first batch of the Micil Hand Sanitiser. It will be made by hand at the Salthill distillery next week.
After getting in touch with a number of Galway based charities and care facilities, as well as hospitals and medical centres, Ó Griallais was keen to make sure that the first batch of the hand sanitiser go to organisations that need it the most.
Micil Distillery have also received a substantial number of orders from local businesses, which means the team will be working hard to meet demand from the moment production commences.
And while his attention is currently only making sure the existing orders are filled,
Ó Griallais is considering selling the sanitiser to other local businesses - as long as there is a commitment to take only a small margin, ensuring the product is affordable to everyone.
“Last week we found ourselves facing a period of huge uncertainty in terms of our business’s survival. We were unsure if we would be able to make it through the storm in light of the recent closure of the bars to whom we supply our spirits, as well as our visitor centre here in Galway, another stream of income that our business relies heavily upon,” Ó Griallais continued.
“However, we were conscious that we were not unique in this and so, rather than worry about what the future held for Micil Distillery, we decided to re-focus our energy into doing what we could to help in the face of a national and global crisis. This is not about profit for us, we’re hoping to sell the hand sanitiser as close to cost as reasonably possible, and donate it for free to those who can’t afford to pay. When all of this is over, we want to be able to look back and know that we did our best to support the most vulnerable in our local community, as well as those at the frontline helping the people who need it most.”