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Work at the Dalton Distillery hasn't slowed during the outbreak of the new coronavirus (COVID-19).

It has just shifted focus.

The makers and sellers of vodka and moonshine have added another high-demand product at their downtown Dalton location: hand sanitizer.

"I knew that it was a little bit scarce, but I didn't know that it would carry on this long," said Chuck Butler, the sales manager at the distillery.

With the outbreak of COVID-19, cleaning and sanitizing products have been hard to find. According to Butler, Dalton Distillery began producing the sanitizer when it saw the need begin to grow. Now, the Butler family business has U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved labels for gallon jugs of sanitizer and has large orders to fill from grocery store chain Aldi and the Tennessee Valley Authority.

On Saturday, the distillery opened for anyone to take up to 16 ounces of sanitizer, asking for no money but accepting donations. Butler said the distillery gave away 45 gallons.

"We're packaging in one-gallon jugs. We don't have labels made up for bottles, but what we've been doing is offering refills on bottles," Butler said. "People have been great about donating bottles so we can keep it going."

The process of making hand sanitizer isn't a complicated one for a group already used to producing a key ingredient, Butler said.

"We do vodka that would start at 95% alcohol before it filtered down," Butler said. "What we do now, we're able to take that 95% alcohol, add glycerin and add hydrogen peroxide."

While much attention has been focused on the making of the sanitizer, Butler said the distillery is still open for business for its normal clientele, although only curbside pickup is offered.

While Dalton Distillery works on bulk orders from larger companies, Butler said, it won't be able to offer free sanitizer to the public. A shortage of glycerin, Butler said Wednesday afternoon, has limited sanitizer production until more can be brought in.

"We're only able to fill the orders we've promised to Aldi right now," Butler said. "It's really heartbreaking that people need it, and it's sad that we can't offer that now."

Butler said despite all the extra work the production of hand sanitizer has brought, he's glad to try to lessen a supply shortage during the COVID-19 outbreak.

"We just want to help out," Butler said. "We're lucky that we've got a great family operation here."

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