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Local distillery Calwise Spirits Co. making hand sanitizer; taking orders from first responders
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Local distillery Calwise Spirits Co. making hand sanitizer; taking orders from first responders

San Luis Obispo County master distiller and proprietor of Calwise Spirits Co. Aaron Bergh, is slowing down production of his hand-crafted spirits to focus on creating hand sanitizer to address the dwindling supplies for local first responders who remain on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic

And, he is asking agencies in need to contact him.

Bergh, who is best known for producing craft gins and rums at his distillery in south Paso Robles, says that although he continues to produce spirits to fill pick-up and online transactions, he is now largely focused on supplying local law enforcement agencies, fire departments and charities with bulk orders of hand sanitizer. 

"I didn't plan on pivoting in this direction but when I found that so many first responders and public servants were in dire need of a cost-effective source of sanitizer, I couldn't just sit on the sidelines and watch," Bergh said. “I realized that my equipment and supply chain expertise could help out these everyday heroes as they work tirelessly to keep us safe.”

Retreating to his distillery just last week, Bergh made an adjustment and began turning out vats of gel sanitizer, which consists of three key ingredients: glycerin, hydrogen peroxide and ethanol alcohol — typically used for making spirits.

In partnership with local businesses Cook’s Vanilla, Golden Apple Cannabis and RS Paul Construction, Calwise Spirits has so far provided for the Templeton Fire Department, San Luis Obispo Regional Transit Authority, the Camarillo Police Department, 40 Prado Road Homeless Services Center, Food Bank Coalition of San Luis Obispo County and others.

Bergh said a sobering call was one he received from the FBI field office in Los Angeles.

“They have agents out in the field as part of the COVID-19 response team, and they are worried about running out of hand sanitizer,” he said. “This sanitizer is going to make a huge difference in keeping them and the public safe.”

According to the FDA, distilleries have been given the authority to produce sanitizer in accordance with World Health Organization formulation standards.

“As far as I know, this has never happened in the United States, it’s totally unprecedented,” Bergh said. “I hope to get more of our hand sanitizer out there so that our public servants can safely do their jobs in this time of crisis."

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