Distillery ramps up sanitiser production

Cayman Spirits Company has ramped up production of its sanitising products, made at its distillery in George Town. - Photo: Taneos Ramsay

Last year, the Cayman Spirits Company’s hand sanitisers were possibly more famous than its Seven Fathoms Rum, as overseas supplies of disinfecting products ran out across the islands in panic-buying sprees that saw store shelves stripped bare.

Now, the company is, again, pumping out its sanitisers and cleansing products to meet growing demand in light of recent reports of community transmission of COVID-19.

Cayman Spirits Company owner Walker Romanica says, since news of the recent local outbreaks broke, there has been plenty more interest from the public in obtaining the alcohol-based sanitising products the company whips up at its George Town distillery.

The company had never stopped making supplies of the disinfecting items, as they were continuously being used in bars and restaurants by staff to sanitise counters and table tops, as well as by cleaning companies, hospitals, doctors, clinics and other medical facilities. But now, Romanica said, demand has ramped up considerably.

“I think there are very few businesses and companies that don’t need sanitiser currently,” he said.

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“Fortunately, we kind of assumed that this moment was coming, so we do have plenty of availability,” he added.

The sanitiser comes from a by-product of the rum-making process, which is basically broken down into three phases – the heads, the hearts and the tails.

The heads comes at the beginning of the distilling process, and because it contains such a high percentage of alcohol, it cannot be consumed. The company has always used the heads as a cleaning product and to sterilise bottles in its own premises, but typically, pre-COVID, it would have only produced a small amounts of heads. Now, much more is made, which cuts into the amount of rum and other spirits that can be produced.

“Once we’ve collected the heads… they’re blended together over various runs. Ultimately, most sanitiser – unless we’re dealing with a hospital, for example, that tend to want 70% proof – the most common proof is 65%. So, we’re going to blend it down to the right proof, and we have devices to make sure it’s at the exact right proof, 65% alcohol. And we typically add a few ingredients to it, to scent it and to give it a better feel so that it dries cleanly off your hands,” he said.

The alcohol used by the Cayman Spirits Company in its disinfecting products is a by-product of the rum-making process. – Photo: Taneos Ramsay

With all its sanitising products being liquid, rather than gel, based, they can be used for multiple purposes, such as cleaning surfaces or disinfecting hands, he said.

The company, as it has been doing since it launched the products last year, is offering them for free to charities.

“In order to make the sanitiser, we have to keep making lots of rum,” Romanica said. “So, hopefully, people keep drinking rum, and especially local rum.”

The hand sanitisers and other products can be purchased at the distillery on Bronze Road, off North Sound Road, or online at www.rumrunners.ky.

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