Innovative employers with the right spirit

June 23, 2020
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Stirling Distillery and Isle of Harris Distillers logos

Two of our Armed Forces signatories, Isle of Harris Distillers Ltd. and Stirling Distillery Company Ltd., switched from producing gin to hand sanitiser to support local initiatives during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Organisations and communities have come together in innovative ways to help fight the coronavirus outbreak. A few gin companies began prioritising producing hand sanitiser to help with the sudden high demand due to the shortage of essential items in the shops. Isle of Harris Distillers Ltd., an Armed Forces Covenant signatory and an ERS Bronze Award winner, teamed up with candle and fragrance maker, Essence of Harris, to create and donate alcohol-based hand sanitiser for frontline services and healthcare workers in the Western Isles. Jamie McGowan, chief executive of Essence of Harris, said: “At times like these, we must work together to keep our communities as safe and healthy as possible.”

The chief executive of Essence of Harris, Jamie McGowan, holding up the new hand sanitiser bottles.

The companies decided to give back and support their local community when they needed it the most. The managing director of Isle of Harris Distillery., Simon Erlanger, said: “It is vital we all keep working together to protect our community at this critical time, and we hope this donation of our spirit will play a small part in keeping our key workers and wider family safe while we face the challenges which lie ahead.” The inspiration behind the ‘Spirit of the Hebrides’ hand sanitiser bottles was sparked by the desire to meet the urgent demand and to help healthcare staff and frontline workers across the Outer Hebrides.

Bottles of the ‘Spirit of the Hebrides’ hand sanitiser made by Essence of Harris with the Isle of Harris Distillery’s raw spirit.

A small batch distiller and apothecary called A.S Apothecary also reached out to Isle of Harris Distillery, since they needed access to high-strength alcohol. Isle of Harris Distillers thus teamed up with both companies to supply the key ingredient of excellent quality, following guidance provided by the World Health Organisation. Together, these businesses have donated hand sanitiser to various local public services such as the police, schools, care homes and NHS workers. The distillery teams are also delivering hand sanitiser to the doorsteps of elderly and vulnerable people within their community. In addition to the community donations and distribution, the hand sanitiser is available to purchase online.

Mint & Rosemary hand sanitiser made by A.S Apothecary with the help of Isle of Harris Distillery.

Stirling Distillery Company Ltd., who recently signed the Armed Forces Covenant in March, joined other Scottish craft gin companies by rallying to create hand sanitiser. Not only is it an opportunity to diversify their business, but also to help their community during a challenging time. They began by focusing on supporting the frontline services, then adapted to supply a few private companies. Like Isle of Harris Distillery, Stirling Distillery followed WHO guidelines to create hand sanitiser made up of Glycerol, Hydrogen, Water, Xanthan gum and Ethanol. Director Cameron McCann said: “Having a close network of fellow business owners, I was consistently hearing that companies were struggling to get their hands on much-needed hand sanitiser. After looking at the processes involved in creating such a product, I knew we could step in and add this to our business model.”

Stirling Distillery’s hand sanitiser bottles.

Both distilleries are still making gin, but the coronavirus outbreak has highlighted the real spirit of the spirit industry. Their innovative thinking is changing their business and their communities for the better.

To visit Isle of Harris Distillery, click here.

To visit Stirling Distillery, click here.

To visit Essence of Harris, click here.

To visit A.S Apothecary, click here.