Jon Poteet was at a liquor store in early March when he noticed a sea of customers asking for Everclear. The high-proof spirit was in demand as worry over COVID-19 led people to make their own hand sanitizer. Poteet, who owns Shine Distillery & Grill in North Portland, immediately went to work producing and bottling his own hand sanitizer to meet the growing customer need.
“Wait a minute, we’ve got the spirits, we’ve got the lab, we’ve got the equipment,” Poteet said. “We’ve got the ability to test and manufacture it correctly. Let’s do it.” The hand sanitizer Shine Distillery makes is 20 percent water, or “19.999 percent” as Poteet points out. “Every time we run the still to make a batch of product, whatever it is, we use about 300 gallons of water, not only in the cooling, but we use a ton of water in our fermentation process.” (Story continues below video.)
After switching production from spirits to sanitizer, the distillery got some local media attention. Quickly, people from all over the country were calling Poteet to see if the hand sanitizer could be shipped to them. “We were getting 1,000 to 1,500 requests from all over the United States, but we could barely keep up with demand here,” Poteet said. “We were handing out our recipe and then telling people where to find their nearest distillery so they could make it for them.”
While a bureau representative interviewed Poteet, an employee from a nearby restaurant came to pick up hand sanitizer, which the distillery is giving away to their peers in the service industry to help them bounce back from the pandemic. “The sooner we get everyone to be happy and healthy, the sooner I can get back in business, and fill all these seats,” Poteet said. “I’m giving it away to businesses, and if I can get in their good graces, hopefully they will reciprocate by purchasing our product in the future.