Funds boost for distiller producing hand sanitiser

A gin distillery in the north of Scotland has switched production to make hand sanitiser in response to coronavirus, thanks to support from Beatrice Offshore Wind Farm funds.

The Ice and Fire Distillery, near Latheronwheel, Caithness received just over £9,000 from the Beatrice Caithness Fund for its efforts and is now distributing supplies free of charge to doctors' surgeries, local shops and care workers.

Ice and Fire director Jacqueline Black said: "The fact that we can supply hand sanitiser for up to the next 12 months is going to be such a benefit to the local community.

"Covid-19 is not going away any time soon so I think that using hand sanitiser is going to be a part of daily life, and the ability to give it to people free is fantastic."

Jacqueline and her team initially started making the product from ethanol in March after being approached by a local medical practice. But costs were high and they looked to source funding.

The Beatrice funds, alongside other grants, have helped buy denatured alcohol and other supplies to begin large-scale production. They now intend to make 4,000 litres of hand sanitiser over the next 12-months.

Jacqueline added: "Without the financial aid and support from the local panel of the Beatrice Offshore Wind Farm fund, this project would not have been possible.

"Their support was the catalyst for all the other agencies coming on board to provide a truly triple-helix approach to the project. This really shows how the local community can benefit from the fund and how vital the fund is at a time like this”

Fiona Morrison, Beatrice’s Community Fund Manager said: "We are delighted that the team at Ice and Fire Distillery came to us to discuss their project. Supporting business activities usually sits out-with our funding criteria but we could see the huge difference this project was making to the local area, so we turned the application around quickly and our panel decided to make an award.

"To have the support of Caithness Rural Transport shows what great work is being done in communities to support each other through this unprecedented time.”

The Beatrice Caithness Fund is associated with Beatrice Offshore Wind Farm Limited, a joint venture between SSE Renewables (40%), Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners (35%) and Red Rock Power Limited (25%). The site is Scotland’s largest offshore wind farm and makes around £380,000 per year available for community and charitable projects in Caithness. Between 2017 and 2021 £1.9m of funding is expected to be invested in local projects.