As hospitality markets closed down and the need for hand sanitiser rose, Harrogate Tipple which produces Harrogate Gin and rum along with the Downton Abbey gin and whisky range, decided to put its still to a different use and produce the much needed sanitiser.
The company, founded by Steven and Sally Green, planned to produce a not-for-profit, alcohol-based sanitiser for the care sector in response to the growing need due to the spread of the coronavirus.
“Organisations such as care homes, GP practices and dental practices are all struggling to source hand sanitiser and we realised that we could help by quickly switching production,” Mr Green said.
“However, as a distillery, HMRC told us we would still be liable to pay duty on the alcohol we used to produce it.”
Hearing about the problem, MP for Harrogate and Knaresborough, Andrew Jones, got in touch and offered to help.
“Andrew started discussions with HMRC which has now agreed to waive the duty on all alcohol being used to produce hand sanitisers. This enables us to make the product at a realistic cost,” said Mr Green.
Mr Jones said: “This is such a great idea and a way to help the current health crisis. I believe my approach to the Treasury on behalf of Harrogate Tipple was the first such approach in the entire country and now the idea is being rolled out nationally. I am really proud to be supporting it.”
With duty due on a litre bottle of 80 per cent alcohol currently costing around £25, its removal will make products dramatically cheaper to produce, savings which can be passed on to the people who need it.
To get underway, Mr Green and Harrogate Tipple production manager, Andrea Natiello, consulted World Health Organisation guidelines, successfully producing the first 500 bottles of 80 per cent alcohol-based hand sanitiser.
“First and foremost our concern was to produce it for the people who can’t carry out vital work without it,” Mr Green said.
And Sally Green, inset, co-founder of Harrogate Tipple, said they had been inundated with orders from all sorts of businesses including local police stations and Royal Mail offices.
“Our plan is to make as much sanitiser as we can, we’ve ordered more alcohol and other ingredients and believe we have the capacity to produce thousands of bottles a day.
“We are struggling to source enough plastic bottles of all sizes, so if any businesses have large quantities they can donate, we would really appreciate it.”