Welsh gin distilleries have produced and given away more than 200,000 bottles of desperately needed hand sanitiser to frontline services, essential workers and community care providers since the start of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Gin distillery photo

Today, Life Sciences Hub Wales is leading industry efforts to combat COVID-19 by launching a nation-wide drive to get companies from a range of sectors working together on solutions.

Support from the Life Sciences Hub Wales is helping to ensure that the thousands of hand sanitiser produced by Welsh distilleries has a direct route to where they are most needed by NHS Wales.

A partnership with the Welsh Drinks Cluster, which represents Wales’ alcohol and soft drinks producers, is enabling the Life Sciences Hub to aid distillers across the country to switch production in response to the national call out for hand sanitiser.

Life Sciences Hub Wales’ support is enabling distilleries to join forces with businesses and organisations from a range of industry sectors to battle the pandemic’s hold in Wales. As a result, some have accessed support from the antimicrobial specialists at Hybrisan to ensure products meet necessary standards, Swansea University has assisted in sourcing essential materials, and Welsh Government support has enabled businesses across Wales to provide logistical support to ensure materials and products can be transported to where they are most needed.

Collaboration has already seen urgently needed hand sanitiser delivered to hospitals, care homes, GP surgeries, Royal Air Force personnel, police, community groups and the Royal Mail.

Commenting on the success to date, Cari-Anne Quinn, CEO at Life Sciences Hub Wales, said:

“The work of Wales’ distillers to create products that specifically answer NHS Wales’ critical needs is a perfect example of what we at Life Sciences Hub Wales are working to make possible.

“These products are essential, but their creation has only been possible because organisations, from an array of industries and disciplines have united in a common goal. Their success clearly demonstrates that collaboration allows solutions to be developed and deployed at pace to fight Coronavirus, and I thank all involved for their efforts.”

Cari-Anne Quinn

Crucially, the partnership between the Welsh Drinks Cluster and Life Sciences Hub Wales has allowed distillers to ensure that their products meet NHS Wales’ national need. As part of its role to lead Wales’ industry efforts to combat Coronavirus, Life Sciences Hub Wales is processing all industry offers made to NHS Shared Services Wales. As a result, partnering with the Cluster has allowed products made by Welsh distillers to be fast-tracked to where they are most urgently needed within NHS Wales.   

Two of the first craft gin producers to release supplies of hand sanitiser and alcohol hand rub products are Anglesey’s Llanfairpwll Distillery and Machynlleth-based, Dyfi Distillery.     

Dyfi Distillery, the producers of Pollination Gin, is a multi-award-winning small craft gin distillery that sources its botanicals from within the UNESCO Biosphere of Dyfi. However, the arrival of the Coronavirus in Wales has seen the artisan gin produces switch all efforts to support its community.

Danny Cameron from Dyfi Distillery, explained:

“Like many distilleries, our thoughts turned to producing alcohol-based hand sanitiser some weeks ago. The challenges all distilleries initially met with were a combination of compliance and access to the other raw materials required.

“Thankfully, by collaborating with various authorities and Drinks Cluster, we were ultimately able to go into production, and distribute hand sanitiser free of charge to 31 local front line organisations including, hospitals, ambulance, social care, police and Royal Mail, as a sincere thank you for every single person who is out there helping others.”

Speaking on behalf of the Welsh Drinks Cluster, Mark Grant, said:

"While the process of making alcohol-based sanitiser products is relatively straightforward for distillers, many have needed support and collaboration to allow them to secure the necessary materials, packaging and ensure that new products meet the regulatory standards that allow them to be used by organisations like NHS Wales.

“Our role has been to ensure that distillers can access all that they need to make these products safely available to those that most need them. We congratulate these distillers for their dedicated work to deliver the essential supplies our heroic front-line healthcare workers and essential service providers need at this time.”

Life Sciences Hub Wales is encouraging all companies with proposals to help support NHS Wales to submitted their offers through its online enquiry form.