AN Irish distillery that has made poitín for over 170 years has stopped producing the spirit for the first time since 1848 to join the fight against Covid-19.
Galway’s Micil Distillery has paused production of its range of traditional poitíns and an award-winning Connemara gin and started making hand sanitiser to help combat the spread of coronavirus in Ireland.
Micil Distillery’s founder Pádraic Ó Griallais made the call to switch production in an effort to free up the distillery’s supply of alcohol and begin manufacturing antibacterial hand sanitiser to help meet local demand.
Speaking about the move, the sixth-generation poitín distiller, who hails from Indreabhán in Connemara, said: “Like many others, we had been looking to our neighbours abroad to see how the situation around the virus was developing when we discovered that distilleries in the US and Scotland had started producing hand sanitiser due to shortages.
“Conscious that similar issues were arising here in Ireland, we were eager to use our resources to provide a solution.”
In order to make the economics work for the small-scale family distillery to change its production model, the firm, which made its first batch of sanitiser last week, reached out to their local Revenue office and the Health Service Executive (HSE).
They agreed to waive excise duties on the alcohol the company would use to produce the sanitiser.
In order to source packaging for the sanitiser Mr Ó Griallais put out a call for help on social media – which brought an overwhelming response that put them in touch with a supplier.
Production of the very first batch of the Micil Hand Sanitiser, which is being made by hand at the company’s Salthill distillery, began last week.
While spirit production at the distillery has totally shut down to allow the team to concentrate fully on the hand sanitiser production, limited stocks of its traditional poitíns and Connemara gin are still available.
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