Vikre Distillery fights virus

by Jim Lundstrom

 

Folks line up at Vikre Distillery at Canal Park to get free ethanol-based hand sanitizer from the distillery. Photo credit Jim Lundstrom.
Folks line up at Vikre Distillery at Canal Park to get free ethanol-based hand sanitizer from the distillery. Photo credit Jim Lundstrom.

Aerial Bridge, people are lined up to get into Vikre Distillery, but not for craft liquors and cocktail. The Duluth distillery has come to the rescue in this time of coronavirus paranoia by providing free hand sanitizer to individuals and businesses. “Everything is so surreal. It’s quite a bit different operation for us,” said Vikre

Kitchen Manager Anton Jimenez-Kloeckl. “We’re just seeing how much hand sanitizer we can continue to make. The beginning of last week there was a lot of uncertainty about whether what we were doing was legal or not. But the FDA and the TTB [the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, a division of the U.S. Dept. of Treasury responsible for alcohol oversight in the country] had relaxed regulations and are asking distilleries to do it. We’re giving 270 gallons a day away. There’s a line out the door right now. We’re asking one at a time to come in and we’re asking folks to keep the correct distances and we‘re making sure we sanitize all surfaces.”

The distillery is serving the public this way weekdays from noon to 5 pm. “We want to make sure we give it to as many people as possible,” Jimenez-Kloeckl said. “It’s a spray sanitizer. We’re asking people to bring 16 ounce containers or less. We can’t get our hands on large amounts of glycerin or aloe vera, which is needed to put moisturize on the skin. Ethanol in a 70 percent solution, does the job killing viruses and bacteria, but it also dries out the skin. “We’re just doing it all out of pocket right now, but there have been some little angels from different places to help us along, like our shipping company put us fi rst on the list so we can continue getting the chemicals we need to make this work out according to the World Health Organization’s guidelines.

We’re thankful to them,” he said. “Right now we’re not charging for hand sanitizer. We want people to have hand sanitizer, no matter what. But if they have it in their hearts, we’re accepting donations that are going to our 18 employees that are at home during this time. We have 18 employees that we furloughed.” The donation response has been good, he said, but the business hopes everyone remembers Vikre when this crisis comes to an end. “Obviously, there’s going to be an increase in need,” he said. “In the Northland there’s not as many cases

as I assume the peak will be. So we’re going to keep on doing it as long as we can and when we come out on the other side, I hope people will say, ‘Hey you guys stepped up when the community needed you and we’ll make sure you continue to stay in business here.’ We’re thankful to the people who have donated so far. We’re just going to keep going as long as we can.” Jimenez-Kloeckl said area business have taken advantage of the

free hand sanitizer offer, including police and fi re departments. “Businesses are welcome to give an advance call to us, and come grab what they need,” he said. Contact the distillery at 481-740.