Silent Pool Distillers are based in Albury, near Guildford and produce the award winning Silent Pool Gin as well as a range of small batch gins. At the beginning of March - when the Covid-19 crisis really hit hard - the distillery was one of the first in the country to start making hand sanitiser in response to the national shortage. They had a good supply of the high strength alcohol necessary to make an effective formula, a quantity of practical 3cl bottles and a hand bottling machine - usually used to bottle gin - to fill each one. Crucially, the team also successfully led a campaign to persuade the government to waive the duty on the alcohol used in the formulation of hand sanitiser so that it could be produced affordably.
The plan was to donate bottles of the 80% alcohol hand sanitiser to those in need within the local Surrey community, and it soon became clear that there was huge demand. So far the distillery has donated over 2,000 bottles to organisations and individuals including the Royal Surrey County Hospital, midwives, mental health nurses, paramedics and surgeons. They’ve supplied Surrey Police, prison staff, care homes and individual carers, local council offices, funeral directors, refuge collectors and schools. Charities helped include Cherry Trees UK, the Phylis Tuckwell Hospice and Dorking Food Bank.
Of course, the distillery continues to sell gin and now offers complimentary hand sanitiser with every gin order, as well as selling it online. This has generated both national and local publicity in traditional and social media, and thrown a lifeline to the brand in this difficult period where the closure of bars, pubs and restaurants has hit sales hard, and most export opportunities have disappeared overnight.
The project is a credit to the initiative and versatility of the skilled yet small distillery team - currently operating with eight employees - who recognised that they had the necessary resources and then reacted so quickly in these unprecedented times.
The hand sanitiser is a liquid formulation in a handy 30ml bottle that is easy to pop in your pocket or bag to use on the go. This portability will be key when people start returning to work, particularly in those industries where one communal bottle in the office won’t be practical. Another key feature is that it’s a liquid that is dispensed via a nozzle, rather than gel. This makes it less wasteful to use and long lasting - each little bottle will dispense over 200 sprays.
The distillery is able to take orders from hotels looking for sanitiser to place in each room, waste collection companies, care companies or any other business that wishes to help their staff and customers keep their hands clean. They have their own in-house label printer and designer to produce bottles with the customers’ own branding too.