LAFAYETTE, NY — When the coronavirus pandemic started, 1911 Established, the beverage arm of Beak & Skiff Apple Orchards, joined other local distillers in producing hand sanitizer to fill a growing need.
Now, more than a month later, the family-owned business is taking that further: On Sunday, they’ll offer a free 12-ounce bottle of their distillery-made sanitizer to anyone who drives out to their Apple Hill campus in LaFayette.
Since 1911 converted its distillery entirely to sanitizer production last month, it has supplied the product to first responders, hospital personnel and others, and has distributed it for sale through stores like Tops, Kinney Drugs and Byrne Dairy.
“We’ve been doing this for a while now, but we really want to get it into the hands of as many people as we can ,” said Eddie Brennan, president at 1911/Beak & Skiff, which makes hard cider, vodka, bourbon and other alcohol products as well as its apples and fresh cider. “It will be a large investment for us, however we feel like it is needed and we can help.”
The giveaway will take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday at the Apple Hill campus, 2708 Lord’s Hill Road (Route 80). That’s just south of Route 20. It will be a drive-up operation and “contactless,” Brennan said.
One bottle will be given to each person in the car.
The big visitor’s center, which draws thousands during the apple season each fall, is equipped to handle the crowds. This may even rival the lines for the special Villa Pizze Fritte sales held in DeWitt last weekend (and continuing this weekend.)
Beak & Skiff/1911 has been cranking out 2,000 cases of the sanitizer each day. A case is 12-bottles of 12-ounce sanitizer. The retail base price is about $4.99 per bottle, though demand sometimes has caused that to spike, Brennan said.
It’s made at the 1911 Established Distillery on Route 20, which usually produces vodka, gin bourbon and other spirits. The sanitizer is 80% alcohol, above the minimum 60% recommended to kill the virus.
In addition to the free bottles, Beak & Skiff on Sunday will offer 20% off the regular price of cases of the sanitizer. It will also set up a tent to offer a limited selection of 1911 hard cider, spirits and wine.
Distillers like 1911 are experts at producing the type of alcohol known as ethanol, the base for their spirits like vodka or whiskey. They mix the alcohol with other ingredients, typically hydrogen peroxide and glycerin, to make the sanitizer.
Other Central New York craft beverage distillers involved in making sanitizer include Old Home Distillers and Madison County Distillery, both in Madison County; Cortland Beer Co. and Distillery in Cortland; Lock 1 Distilling in Phoenix, Oswego County; and Hall Island Distilling in Cicero.
Most have offered the sanitizer to police, firefighters and other first responders, as well as hospitals and medical personnel. Sales to the public are typically at just above cost.
“It seems like this is something we can do to help fill the demand in our community,” Brennan said.