Meet the Northern Colorado distilleries making hand sanitizer amid a national shortage



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Amid its rows of canned gin and tonics, bottles of small-batch bourbon and spiked seltzers, Windsor’s The Heart Distillery has started stocking its bar with something a little off-menu: hand sanitizer. 

Like other distilleries across Colorado, The Heart Distillery has officially pivoted to producing hand sanitizer, which is increasingly hard to come by as coronavirus panic buying continues to leave store shelves empty and suppliers out of stock.

The idea sprouted a couple of weeks ago and, after fine-tuning its recipe, the distillery had an initial, small batch of 240 bottles of sanitizer ready for its customers Monday, according to Pat Weakland, whose family launched The Heart Distillery under the same roof as its garden center, The Windsor Gardener, and brewery, High Hops, in 2018. 

The Heart Distillery’s hand sanitizer, which is 70-75% alcohol based, includes the distillery’s gin and absinthe as well as vegetable glycerin. It has been bottled in 1-ounce containers and will be given out for free to customers of The Windsor Gardener, High Hops Brewery and The Heart Distillery starting Monday — with a limit of one bottle per customer, Weakland said. 

Weakland said they may also sell sanitizer in bulk to health care providers and Northern Colorado medical centers, though they haven’t ironed out those details yet.

“If people want it and need it, we can always manufacture more,” Weakland said, later adding that The Heart Distillery plans to release a second, larger batch next week.

By jumping on this trend, The Heart Distillery is joining a handful of other Colorado distilleries, which — like the state’s bars, restaurants and breweries — are currently only open for quick to-go sales of prepackaged beers, cocktails and spirits. 

On Saturday, Old Town’s CopperMuse Distillery announced it had partnered with Gilded Goat Brewing Company to produce 1,000 liters of hand sanitizer for Colorado State University’s research labs, facilities department, and housing and dining services before distributing what was left to local grocery stores, UCHealth and assisted living facilities. 

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Since last week, Loveland’s Spring44 Distilling has given out roughly 6,400 50-ml bottles for Colorado first responders on the go as well as 350 gallons of handmade sanitizer for first responders and agencies to fill up their own containers with, according to Spring44 co-owner Robin Marisco.

Spring44 Distilling, which is known for using Buckhorn Canyon spring water in its distilling process, started turning its bottling line into a hand sanitizer assembly line shortly after Gov. Jared Polis ordered Colorado restaurants, bars, breweries and distilleries to close to public dining and drinking on March 16.

“We found ourselves with some time on our hands, and we had the materials,” Marisco said.

The distillery started bottling the hand sanitizer on March 23 and have since run out of bottles after donating them to Colorado law enforcement agencies and fire departments — from Fort Collins Police Services to the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office.

They still have bulk hand sanitizer available for first responders, though they’ll likely run out of their supply and will have to make more, Marisco said. 

Though they’ve seen a tremendous interest from the public — in the form of “19 million phone calls a day” — Marisco said they’re limiting their donations to first responders. 

Individuals and agencies can reach out to Marisco through the Spring44 Distilling website, which includes a contact form for first responders interested in receiving sanitizer. Other donations were coordinated through word-of-mouth, including an instance when Marisco herself was sitting at a stoplight on Harmony Road next to a Poudre Fire Authority engine.

Marisco shouted into the engine’s open window to let firefighters know Spring44 Distilling was giving out hand sanitizer in case their agency wanted some. 

“It’s been really really cool to see everyone rally together,” Marisco said. 

In need of hand sanitizer? 

Spring44 Distilling has a limited supply of bulk hand sanitizer for Colorado first responders. To get some, visit to fill out the necessary form. 

Customers of The Heart Distillery, High Hops Brewery and The Windsor Gardener, will be given one complimentary bottle of The Heart Distillery’s hand sanitizer with each purchase while supplies last. 

Editor’s note: As the coronavirus outbreak continues to evolve, we don’t want you to panic. In fact, quite the opposite. That’s why the Coloradoan is committed to providing you with accurate, up-to-date information so you can make informed decisions on issues affecting you and the people you love. As such, this story, and many others, are being provided free for all to read. Help us continue this important work by subscribing to the Coloradoan. 


Erin Udell reports on news, culture, history and more for the Coloradoan. Contact her at The only way she can keep doing what she does is with your support. If you subscribe, thank you. If not, sign up for a subscription to the Coloradoan today.

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