By Sharon Dolan D’Arcy
A Salthill distillery has totally shut down its poitín production for the first time in over 170 years, to help combat the spread of coronavirus by producing hand sanitiser.
Micil Distillery is joining the effort of other Irish distilleries in manufacturing antibacterial hand sanitiser to help meet demand in the face of the coronavirus crisis.
Production of the first batch of Micil hand sanitiser which will be made by hand, will begin in Galway next week.
The family owned distillery has been producing traditional hand-crafted poitín since 1848 and in recent years, an award winning Connemara gin. The distillery’s founder, Pádraic Ó Griallais who is a sixth-generation poitín distiller from Indreabhán in Connemara told the Galway Pulse:
“Last week we found ourselves facing a period of huge uncertainty in terms of our business’s survival. We were unsure if we would be able to make it through the storm in light of the recent closure of the bars to whom we supply our spirits, as well as our visitor centre here in Galway, another stream of income that our business relies heavily upon.
“However, we were conscious that we were not unique in this and so, rather than worry about what the future held for Micil Distillery, we decided to re-focus our energy into doing what we could to help in the face of a national and global crisis.
Establishing production was not without its challenges. Revenue had waived the excise duties for some larger corporate distilleries to allow them to produce hand sanitiser, but not for the smaller operations. However after a petition by Ó Griallais, the local Revenue office along with the HSE and Department of Agriculture, granted him the same permission.
Another challenge for the distillery was in sourcing packaging. Mr Ó Griallais put out a call for help via social media channels and through the help of the online community, was able to connect with a supplier.
The local distillery has already received a substantial number of orders from local businesses, which means the team will be working hard to meet demand from next week. It is expected the product will be affordable and donated to Galway based charities and care facilities, as well as hospitals and medical centres. Mr Ó Griallais said:
“This is not about profit for us, we’re hoping to sell the hand sanitiser as close to cost as reasonably possible, and donate it for free to those who can’t afford to pay. When all of this is over, we want to be able to look back and know that we did our best to support the most vulnerable in our local community, as well as those at the frontline helping the people who need it most.”