Difference Makers: Brooklyn Distillery Lends Helping Hand Amid Pandemic


NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — A whiskey maker in Brooklyn served a hand in the fight against the coronavirus after switching gears to make hands clean.

Colin Spoelman owns Kings County Distillery in the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

The Yale-educated entrepreneur is from Harlan, Kentucky where his roots are in moonshining. In 2010, he and a partner became the first licensed whiskey manufacturer in the state of New York since prohibition.

“Normally we are making whiskey, rye, bourbon, single malt," he told WCBS 880's Mike Sugerman.

But these are not normal times.

“We as distillers have often joked that the active ingredient in whiskey, which is ethanol, is also the active ingredient in hand sanitizer," Spoelman said.

So the company pivoted to making hand sanitizer amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We started distributing it on our website to anyone who wanted it, on a pay as you wish, but also to hospitals, medical centers, city workers," he said.

In the past few days, though, the supply has caught up with the need, so they are back to whiskey, rye, bourbon, and single malt, but are happy to have helped make a difference.

“It was a way to keep people employed, busy, and give them a sense of purpose. But also to do good for the community," Spoelman said.

So raise a glass to the Kings County Distillery, who, with other small distillers around the country, had a hand in keeping frontline workers safe and in better spirits with their spirits.

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