In an effort to keep essential workers and others in the community protected, a hui among local distillers was created. The group shifted their focus from making alcohol to instead creating hand sanitizer to fill the supply gap in the islands.
In early March, KoHana Distillers began to make the transformation from a rum distillery to a company focused on providing hand sanitizer in the fight against COVID-19.
“We contacted the state and the FDA to become a registered OTC Drug Manufacturer,” explains Jason Brand, the KoHana’s co-founder. “This took time, but with the FDA’s guidance, we have an approved sanitizer formulation safe for our island’s front line providers.”
Recognizing the huge need for large volumes of hand sanitizer, Pau Maui Vodka and a group of Hawai‘i distillers joined together to fill that need in the community. Brand says the group focuses on creating thousands of gallons of high proof ethanol. Halm’s Enterprises brought in bottles, HonBlue printed the labels, HARC and PharmaCare oversaw the chemical mixing, and American Savings Bank provided the financial support.
“The hui ensured that the hand sanitizer reached our hospitals, first responders, front line workers, food banks, prisons, the Department of Education — all the way into the homeless communities,” Brand explains.
Pau Maui Vodka and Maui Gold Pineapple’s first batch of hand sanitizer was donated completely free of charge to those first responders, healthcare and medical workers, and high-risk organizations and individuals that are on the front lines of this crisis. In the weeks and months that follow, the product will be sold at cost, not for profit, to front line agencies who are most at risk for exposure to COVID-19.
“As an island state, it’s critical that local companies do what they can to support our community and reduce our dependency on imports — especially during unprecedented times like this,” said Keli‘i Heen, Managing Parter at Pau Maui Vodka.
“We are nearing 1,000 gallons so far. As an industry, we are closing in on 4,000 gallons,” Brand says. “Hopefully soon, we can get back to producing incredible Hawaiian spirits, but until then, we are committed to doing our part as members of this incredible community.”
For more information: kohanarum.com or paumaui.com.