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New Sunderland gin distillery switches to making hand sanitiser to help vulnerable

A new gin distillery has quickly switched production to making hand sanitiser to help the vulnerable during the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

WL Distillery has made more than 100 50-millilitre bottles of sanitiser and has appealed for charities and volunteer groups to get in touch if they know worthy causes who could benefit from them for free.

Distillery owner Scott Wilson-Laing, from Sunderland, said it was the firm’s way of “helping the community in these difficult times”.

Mr Wilson-Laing said: “The processes for making gin and sanitiser are quite similar and all we needed to do was to get some extra raw materials to add in.

“Now we have got going it is a case of helping the community in these difficult times.

“The plan would be for charities and volunteer groups to get in touch so we can work out how to get it to the vulnerable for free.”

Mr Wilson-Laing, 33, was inspired to launch WL Distillery last year after developing a passion for sampling gins whilst volunteering as an archaeologist overseas.

Having spent three years studying and travelling in destinations such as Pompeii, in Italy, Cyprus, Turkey and Germany, he returned home and worked in a number of 9am-5pm while finalising plans for his own gin business.

WL Distillery started late last year with support from the North East Business & Innovation Centre (BIC), in Wearfield, Sunderland, and is based in South Hetton.

It aims to “give people a real flavour of the North East, something that is reminiscent and evocative” by using local ingredients such as blackberries, pears and apples to produce small-batch gins.

For now, Mr Wilson-Laing, a former Thornhill School pupil who lives in Farringdon, is concentrating his efforts on making the sanitiser by adding hydrogen peroxide and glycerol to the distillery’s existing quantities of ethanol.

He said: “We have a recipe and are following World Health Organisation guidelines.

“We have the ingredients to make a couple more batches and after that it will be case of seeing if the demand is there for us to continue.”

Any charity or group who knows someone who could benefit is urged to contact Mr Wilson-Laing via email at hello@wldistillery.com