15th April 2020

Demand for hand sanitiser has led to a Caithness distillery being awarded funding to help the community.

The Ice and Fire Distillery at Latheronwheel has switched its normal operations during the coronavirus crisis to make this new product and distribute it free to those who need it, including public services such as doctors’ surgeries, local shops and care workers.

Awards of £9098.09 each have been made by both the SSE Beatrice Caithness Fund and the E.ON Camster Community Fund.

This has given the gin distillery the funds to purchase 4000 litres of denatured alcohol and other necessary ingredients to begin a large-scale production.

Ice and Fire director Jacqueline Black said: “These two funding awards are fantastic news and will be very welcome. The fact that we can supply hand sanitiser for up to the next 12 months is going to be such a benefit to the local community.

“Covid-19 is not going away any time soon so I think that using hand sanitiser is going to be a part of daily life, and the ability to give it to people free is fantastic.”

The sanitiser is made to the World Health Organisation guidelines and can be used in a variety of container types and sizes, depending on people’s preference – spray, pump or squeezy bottles.

The E.ON Camster Community Fund is managed by Foundation Scotland.

Eilidh Coll, Foundation Scotland’s Caithness-based representative, said: “This product will be distributed free of charge across Caithness as the two funding panels from SSE Beatrice and the E.ON Camster Community Fund worked together to reach a swift solution.

“Trudy Morris from Caithness Chamber of Commerce was also instrumental in helping the distillers obtain the necessary licences to purchase denatured alcohol.

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“David Sutherland from Highland Council ensured that the product could swiftly be put through trading standards and Highland Council will ensure that all groups involved with the community response, such as those preparing meals and delivering to households, will gain access to the sanitiser.

“This sort of partnership working means that the sanitiser will be available quickly to those who really need it.’

Ice and Fire Distillery started making the product in early March from duty-paid ethanol after being approached by a local medical practice.

Due to the cost of using spirit alcohol it was costing £300 to make 10 litres of hand sanitiser and, as demand for the product grew, the distillery operators decided that if they wanted to continue helping the community they would have to source funding.

The joint funding will allow the distillery to make 4000 litres of hand sanitiser to be distributed free to frontline services, key workers and care providers as well as vulnerable members of the public over a 12-month period.

Jacqueline said: “Without the financial aid and support from the local panel of the Beatrice wind farm fund, this project would not have been possible.

“Their support was the catalyst for all the other agencies coming on board to provide a truly triple-helix approach to the project. This really shows how the local community can benefit from the fund and how vital the fund is at a time like this”

Fiona Morrison, community fund manager at SSE said: “We are delighted that the team at Ice and Fire Distillery came to us to discuss their project. Supporting business activities usually sits outwith our funding criteria but we could see the huge difference this project was making to the local area, so we turned the application around quickly and our panel decided to make an award.

“To have the support of Caithness Rural Transport shows what great work is being done in communities to support each other through this unprecedented time.”

Source – John O’Groat Journal

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