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Cardrona Distillery founder Desiree Whitaker said the distillery had had to stop commercial production of its whisky because of the Covid-19 outbreak and decided to give away the pure spirit from its gin and vodka stills for use as hand sanitiser.
"We are only a small distillery, it is not something we are set up to do [commercially], but we wanted to be able to do our bit for the community," she said.
On Saturday, the distillery posted a notice on its Facebook page offering the free hand sanitiser and asking those interested to bring an empty spray container.
"We will fill them with a powerful Cardrona-made disinfectant spray for your household surfaces and [it] is safe on hands", the post said.
Supplies were limited to 500ml spray bottle per household per week.
Ms Whitaker said the hand sanitiser was expensive to make, which was partly why the distillery was giving it away, "and we also know the community needs it".
There was a steady stream of customers throughout yesterday, some driving from Makarora and others driving over the Crown Range from Queenstown for the free offer.
Central Vision Optometry owner Tui Homer said she was "extremely grateful" as it allowed her business to continue to see emergency patients.
"We can now sterilise our equipment. We were down to our last 20ml [of sterilising liquid] and we couldn’t buy it anywhere," Ms Homer said.
Ms Whitaker said a colourant had been added to the alcohol and it was not safe to drink.
The distillery would do its best to keep the supply going but like every business in the region "we are planning for all scenarios".