Slocan Valley craft distiller wading through obstacles to help fight COVID-19

From raw materials to licences to bottles, getting production ramped up has been a challenge

A Slocan Valley craft distillery is joining the fight against COVID-19 by producing hand sanitizer.

But it hasn’t been easy.

“It is insane, the web I’m trying to get through right now,” says Lora Goodwin, who runs the Perry Siding-based Kootenay Country Craft Distillery with her husband.

Kootenay Country is a small craft distillery, producing 4,000 to 5,000 litres of gin and vodka annually with locally-sourced grains. But when the pandemic started, Goodwin says they wanted to do their part to help ease the shortage of hand sanitizer.

The product uses ethanol, a type of alcohol, which can be made from sugar at distilleries like Kootenay Country.

The province has been good at relaxing the rules to address the issue — bending regulations so distillers like the Goodwins can raise the alcohol content to the level for effective sanitization. Distillers don’t have to use BC-only raw materials either.

SEE: Grand Forks distillery shifts to make sanitizer

“Being a craft distillery in B.C., we are held to some very strict regulations for what we can use in our products,” she says. “The [B.C. Liquor Distribution Branch] has released us from those guidelines.

“So I can just go and buy cheap sugar for the hand sanitizer.”

But on other fronts, it’s been a bit of a nightmare. Currently Goodwin is trying to untangle several important licences out of the red tape of the federal government.

“I’ve literally spent six hours on the computer today, trying to get up to date with Health Canada, because I have to obtain two more licences to make this happen,” she says. “I need licences through the [Canada Revenue Agency] for an Excise Warehouse Spirit Licence … and now I have to get another licence from the CRA for a user licence, and two from Health Canada — for a product licence and site licence.”

But the pandemic is making that hard to do.

SEE: All B.C. distillers now authorized to make hand sanitizer as COVID-19 leads to shortages

“It’s a lot of headache, because the government bureaucrats aren’t in their offices because of the situation we’re in,” she says. “They’ve been let go. So it’s talking to a lot of people on their phones at home. They don’t have their workplace computers in front of them. It’s been interesting.”

And worst of all, she’s finding raw material suppliers — for sugar, glycerol and hydrogen peroxide — are starting to try to profit off the shortage.

“When this became possible for us to do, I started pricing out ingredients for it,” she says. “And literally within 24 hours, some of the prices of the ingredients went up 100 per cent.

“Isn’t that crazy?”

Even once they cut all the red tape, nail down suppliers, get all the permissions and start production, she has a final problem — what to put the sanitizer in.

“Since we started trying to do this, finding bottles to put the product into is almost impossible,” she says.

Still, Goodwin is confident that they should soon be able to start delivering what she predicts will be about 1,000 litres of hand sanitizer.

And much of it is already spoken for. She has received requests from Nelson Home Care, the Nelson Police Department, BC Transit, Ootischenia Fire Department and community health facilities looking for the product.

She says all those orders will be delivered at cost as a community service.

A few hundred litres should be available commercially. But it’s too early to say where or when it may be available.



reporter@rosslandnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Castlegar residents can now report minor crimes to RCMP online

New reporting tool available for Castlegar, Robson, Ootischenia, Thrums, Deer Park, Glade, Tarrys

Castlegar students set to return to in-person classes next week

Students from different grades will be attending school on different days to mitigate threat of COVID-19

Trial date set in Castlegar RCMP shooting death

Constable Jason Tait has elected a jury trial.

Drive-in theatre proposed for Grand Forks

City councillors will vote next month on whether to permit the use of the private property

RDCK recycling depots to join RecycleBC program

Some depots open, others close, and different materials will be accepted

B.C. records no new COVID-19 deaths for the first time in weeks

Good news comes despite 11 new test-positive cases in B.C. in the past 24 hours

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

BC Corrections to expand list of eligible offenders for early release during pandemic

Non-violent offenders are being considered for early release through risk assessment process

Fraser Valley driver featured on ‘Highway Thru Hell’ TV show dies

Monkhouse died Sunday night of a heartattack, Jamie Davis towing confirmed

B.C. visitor centres get help with COVID-19 prevention measures

Destination B.C. gearing up for local, in-province tourism

36 soldiers test positive for COVID-19 after working in Ontario, Quebec care homes

Nearly 1,700 military members are working in long-term care homes overwhelmed by COVID-19

B.C. poison control sees spike in adults, children accidentally ingesting hand sanitizer

Hand sanitizer sales and usage have gone up sharply amid COVID-19 pandemic

Most Read