Gin Distillers turned Good Sorts


When two of our team from Fonterra’s Clandeboye site heard that there was a shortage of ‘liquid gold’ in their local community, they knew they had to do something about it. 

Saskia and Andrew Lewis, say it became even more important when friends who had vulnerable people within their bubbles couldn’t get their hands-on hand sanitiser, which had sold out in Geraldine.

They put their labour of love, a boutique gin distillery called the Humdinger, to good use and started producing batches of hand sanitiser in their spare time. 

“It became clear there was a shortage of hand sanitiser in our town. We had ethanol on hand for gin making and so we made up 20 litres of sanitiser in our first batch," says Saskia.

Not only do they Lewis’s work for the Co-operative, but their new product also has a link. The ethanol used to produce their hand sanitiser comes from Lactanol, Fonterra’s ethanol subsidiary.

The recipe used was put out by the World Health Organisation, Saskia says it is very simple “ethanol, hydrogen peroxide to kill any spores and some glycerol to moisturise the hands.” 

We had trialled gin batches and knew we had to help the immediate community while we could. The craft of gin distilling to sanitiser isn’t much different.

Andrew Lewis, Fonterra Clandeboye site employee

The pair worked tirelessly, spending nights and all weekend producing over twenty 50 litre batches and bottling them, which added up to over 1,000 litres for local and essential businesses in Geraldine.

That’s almost one ‘standard size’ 500ml bottle of hand sanitiser for each of Geraldine’s 2,630 residents. 

“When we had local midwives and other essential businesses reaching out to us, it confirmed to us that we needed to keep producing the hand sanitiser,” says Andrew. 

Andrew says it was satisfying to support local businesses, including Grumpy's Retreat "n" Holiday Park and local shepherds’ stations, delivering just over 670 litres so far.

They have priced the gin-based hand-sanitiser according to market rates before the lockdown and are planning to bottle their next batches in 200ml bottles after securing the sought-after size. 

Demand has boomed since the announcement of the move from level four down to level three and the Lewis’s are proud to be a part of the solution for local businesses and helping them to open safely.