Wade Jarvis, owner of Bohemian Spirits, is giving away over 100 litres of ethanol to be used for hand sanitizer from jugs located at 215 Mark Street in Kimberley.
“Essentially I’ve been saving it, because while it’s not good for producing gin or vodka, it has other uses, like for cleaning or hand sanitizing,” Jarvis said.
He’s been given the go-ahead by authorities so it’s not breaking any rules; obviously with giving away alcohol there could be some concerns, but this is purely a by-product and to be used specifically for hand sanitizer
“I had a 100-litre barrel with 93 per cent that I was going to eventually turn into gin, but it seems it’s probably worth more as hand sanitizer now socially.”
Jarvis said he’s been getting calls from all over the province for this product, but he said he didn’t want to send 100 litres to Vancouver and then there all of a sudden be a local health unit that was lacking. He said a paramedic came by and grabbed 16 litres today.
To make his craft spirits, Jarvis purchases grain from a farmer in Creston, going through about one tonne per week, which is then converted into about 200 litres of 95 per cent alcohol in a one and a half week process.
“Then if we were to make vodka that would be twice as much, at 40 per cent, or gin, but so we’ve got lots. And I thought worst case if stuff really hits the fan we could re-distill some stuff that’s ready to bottle just to get it strong enough to go.
“At first it was a waste product, we’re almost out of that, but then we had 100 litres that was decent but, again, it’s worth more as hand sanitizer right now.”
Bohemian Spirits was planning to open a tasting lounge next week, but that will obviously be pushed back with everything that’s going on.
“It is what it is, thankfully all the banks and lenders are all cool, I don’t think they want anyone to go bankrupt,” he said.
“We were hoping to have a bar with a patio here, but hopefully we’ll be able to do that in a few months, I don’t know, we’ll see how things go but for now hand sanitizer definitely seems to be the most popular product even though it’s kind of a by-product.”
Before speaking with the Bulletin, Jarvis had just taken a call with one of his reps in Kelowna, who told him most of the liquor stores are mainly selling boxes of wine and 48-packs of beer. Understandable, he says.
“We’re just doing the same as everyone else, just kind of plugging away it’s the first time I’ve ever been considered almost an essential service, usually I’m just a pedlar of poison, getting people drunk, but now poison actually is maybe good?”
In the meantime, Jarvis said he’s enjoying the sunshine, eating a poutine from Julie’s CookShack beside the tanks, and watching a steady stream of people come by, including cops, paramedicis, nurses, to get free hand sanitizer in a time where it’s a much needed product.
On Sunday, Attorney General David Eby announced that all B.C. distillers are now authorized to produce hand sanitizer, saying the move came amid “unprecedented times.” The blanket allowance means distillers will be able to either create hand sanitizer themselves or donate “excess alcohol” to third parties who will manufacture the in-demand item.
With files from Katya Slepian