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Coronavirus Kent: Gin makers Copper Rivet based at Chatham Maritime make hand sanitiser

A gin distillery has swapped spirits for sanitisers.

Copper Rivet in Chatham has been working to develop their own hand sanitiser this week to bolster supplies amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Bob Russell, one of the co-founders of Copper Rivet Distillery, Chatham Maritime with distillery workers Abhi Banik, Sergio Penades and Harrison Lambert. Picture: Tony Jones.
Bob Russell, one of the co-founders of Copper Rivet Distillery, Chatham Maritime with distillery workers Abhi Banik, Sergio Penades and Harrison Lambert. Picture: Tony Jones.

The distillery, based at the Pump House in Leviathan Way, makes its own neutral alcohol making it suitable to make the product.

The first batch will be released on Friday and will be made available to the Met and other forces before being made more widely available to the public.

Family-run Copper Rivet has also teamed up with Faversham-based brewers Shepherd Neame, to supply specially brewed, high-strength beer in bulk to boost their supply of alcohol for its distillation process.

Alcohol with a minimum of 60% strength and compounds to slow the evaporation of the liquid is required to ensure there is enough contact with the virus long enough to kill it.

Copper Rivet in Chatham produces gin, vodka and whisky.
Copper Rivet in Chatham produces gin, vodka and whisky.

Stephen Russell, Copper Rivet co-founder, said: "Our business sells Dockyard Gin and Vela Vodka to pubs, bars and restaurants, which are now all closed; so this new sanitiser product allows the distillery to help the wider community, protect distillery jobs, and perhaps creatively develop a totally new range of products.

“We make our gin and vodka from locally grown wheat, barley and rye, and the naturalness of those cereals should give us an excellent base for a new health product.

“But achieving the right chemical formula is not easy. By itself, high-strength alcohol could hurt hands by opening up cracks and encouraging germs to attack.

"The solution’s formula needs to comply with World Health Organisation guidance. Together the compounds achieve the efficacy of the alcohol, while also being kind to the hands.”

Abhi Banik, the Copper Rivet head distiller, has been working hard to assemble a blend of compounds to diminish the evaporation of the alcohol.

Copper Rivet's head distiller Abhi Banik. Picture: Copper Rivet.
Copper Rivet's head distiller Abhi Banik. Picture: Copper Rivet.

"This blend also should impede spillage or wastage and make use of our hand sanitisers more efficient. Our formula also contains added vitamin E,” he said.

Mark Roberts, director of commercial services at the Met Police, said: “Hand sanitiser is an essential item for our officers and staff, especially those on the frontline.

"I am extremely grateful to all of the suppliers who have agreed to work with us and provide us with this vital commodity, which will help prevent the spread of Covid-19 and ultimately save lives.

Businesses which are deemed essential and need hand sanitiser are invited to email enquiries@copperrivetdistillery.com with details.

Another gin distillery near Tonbridge is also making sanitiser to help during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Greensand Ridge in Shipbourne Road normally makes premium spirits but is switching its production not only to keep cash flowing, but also to help those most in need during the crisis.

KMTV speaks to Greensand Ridge gin distillery.

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