Dry Fly Distilling using downtime to make free ‘Spokanitizer’

SPOKANE, Wash. — Don Poffenroth knows what’s happening outside his distillery is out of his hands, so he’s taking matters into his own. This week, Dry Fly Distilling got federal approval to create hand sanitizer using its alcohol in hopes of preventing the spread of coronavirus.

“We’re spending money to do this when economically it may not be the best time to do so, but things like that will take care of themselves,” says Poffenroth, who founded Dry Fly in 2007. “I think that’s what everyone struggles with the most — we’re all people who like to know things and control. No one is in control of this scenario.”

Dry Fly got federal approval Tuesday, then Poffenroth and his crew of 13 spent Wednesday creating their recipe. They landed on using glycerin, hydrogen peroxide, essential oils and 140 proof alcohol — which has been denatured, so no, you can’t drink it — to create its signature ‘Spokanitizer,’ which they have to bottle by hand to keep their machines from getting damaged.

“We’re not a hand sanitizer company, but we’re doing our best to take care of our local community and that was the idea,” says Poffenroth. “I think it’s awesome we can do this. It makes me happy.”

Poffenroth says he and his team are planning to donate their first batch of bottles to first responders and high-risk healthcare facilities. He guesses they’ll start handing out more bottles to the rest of the community in the next week or so.

“You know, we want to get as many bottles in as many hands as possible,” he says. “As long as there’s a need, and as long as we can meet that, we’ll do our best to do it.”

Poffenroth says the distillery is paying for a majority of the production, but a lot of it depends on donations. He and his crew are looking for glycerin, which he says is getting pretty hard to find. He says they’ll take more spray bottles and any other packaging they can get their hands on.

As hard as it is to be stuck in limbo for who knows how long, Poffenroth is grateful he has something to keep his mind busy.

“It’s a diversion,” he says. “I mean, I could be sitting here being depressed about everything but I’m filling bottles, it’s okay!”