Grass Valley distillery shifts from award-winning vodka to hand sanitizer

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GRASS VALLEY, Calif. (KTXL) — A Grass Valley distillery is changing their production line to keep people healthy during the coronavirus pandemic.

“I was actually in physics. I learned most of my chemistry actually working in the laboratory,” said Satellite Spirits President Dan Kennerson.

There is a patent on how Kennerson’s team makes their vodka.

“We figured out that we were selectively destroying a set of compounds called fusel oils and those were actually responsible for all the harsh aftertaste and bitterness when you normally get in a spirit,” Kennerson told FOX40.

The result was South Fork Vodka, distilled in Grass Valley.

“We do believe it is the most awarded vodka in Northern California,” Kennerson said.

Last month, Kennerson and his partner, Jon Dorfman, halted making vodka and started making hand sanitizer.

“We are in the biggest health crisis of our lifetime,” Dorfman said.

They have already supplied 4,500 bottles to their community.

They are selling it now but started by giving it away to those who need it most.

“Getting the hospital, the fire department, the police departments and senior care facilities our hand sanitizer as our priority,” Kennerson said.

On Tuesday, Kennerson said they were not receiving any government financial assistance at the moment.

They make the sanitizer because it is needed and because they made enough vodka before the pandemic that there are still many bottles leftover to sell.

The South Fork hand sanitizer is also sold in stores. Click or tap here for more information.

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