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From spirits to hand sanitizer: Bozeman distillery helping meet supply needs for first responders

Wildrye Distillery repurposing its operations
Posted: 6:50 PM, Mar 23, 2020
Updated: 2020-03-24 00:29:29-04

BOZEMAN — After figuring out they already had the ingredients, Wildrye Distilling in Bozeman switched from making distilled spirits to helping first responders and the community solve a problem — a hand sanitizer problem.

“The county reached out to us. They say they're having a hard time finding hand sanitizer for all the policemen, firefighters and ambulance drivers who are out serving the community," explained Ben Ganser, one of the owners of Wildrye Distilling.

Owners of the distilling company immediately went into action.

"We have an opportunity to help the community now, and so, we're going to just repurpose our equipment and help the community here in the short term," Ganser said.

It didn't take much of an adjustment. The distillery already had a key ingredient.

"We never make hand sanitizer. No, we made distilled spirits like vodka, gin, bourbon, rum, rye, whiskey. But the main ingredient in all of those is alcohol, and that's also the main ingredient in hand sanitizer," Ganser said.

The business made a post on social media and was shortly contacted by the county, according to Ganser.

"Our county office is literally right across the street from over here. They're right across the street. They walked over, saw our little hand sanitizer in here and said we need your help. Would you be willing to help?" Ganser explained.

And for the business, the answer was obvious.

"I think everyone can help and find someplace that you can help," Ganser said. We all live in the same community, right?"

If you're looking for a way to help, Wildrye Distilling has a suggestion.

"We could use some little bottles. If people had some extra little bottles that they could bring down, the little sample bottles. Because what happens is not everybody has bottles, so if someone needs some hand sanitizer but doesn't have a bottle, we'd appreciate it if people brought some down," Ganser explained.

Anyone in the community can visit the distillery and get free bottles while supplies last, but they do ask that you bring smaller bottles, two ounces or less.