Instead of bourbon, Statesville distilling company now churns out hand sanitizer

STATESVILLE, N.C. — The machines at Southern Distilling Company in Statesville are still pumping out product these days -- but it’s not the famous bourbon they’re known for.

Instead, it’s hand sanitizer approved by the World Health Organization and FDA.

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With grocery store shelves often depleted of hand sanitizer, distillery owners Pete and Vienna Barger moved the barrels out of the way to make room for a solution.

“We could see that the demand was very high and was going to rise, and we knew that we could do this,” said Pete Barger.

“When you don’t have it you feel really vulnerable if you’re out,” added Vienna Barger.

Their facility can create large quantities and nearly 80,000 bottles are ready to be shipped out.

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The couple is also hoping it can create and save jobs. The employees that once worked in the distillery’s taproom now fill, label and ship the items -- and they’re hiring more.

“We have lots of new, part-time, temp staff that have come on who have lost positions in the service industry when all of our restaurants closed,” Vienna Barger said.

Each one of the fermenters holds nearly 5,000 gallons of corn to make the hand sanitizer, and it requires nearly 30,000 gallons a day.

All of the corn comes from local growers, keeping them in business, too.

The Bargers also periodically donate the hand sanitizer to first responders.

Currently, the product is available for commercial use only and orders are being prioritized for first responders, health care providers and other essential service providers.

For more information, visit southerndistillingcompany.com.