FARGO - Proof Artisan Distillers has announced that it is gearing up to make hand sanitizer - a much sought after commodity as worries over coronavirus transmission has led to buying that’s cleared the shelves of area stores.

The announcement came in a Facebook message Thursday afternoon, March 19.

“We’ve been working on it for about a week,” Owner Joel Kath said. “Federal rules changed last night to allow us to do it. So, now, we are going through the process and using some of our in-house alcohol and making hand sanitizer with it.”

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Kath said the alcohol content of the sanitizer is much higher than the 80 proof alcohol typical in vodka you can buy off the shelf. He said the sanitizer will be made with 190 proof alcohol and it will also be denatured, or made unfit for human consumption.

The change in federal rules saves Proof a three-month permitting and approval process for producing the sanitizer, he said.

This is the first time that Proof has done something like this.

“We already started production and we’re still going through the logistics. And we’re going to be having it at our downtown fargo location,” he said.

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Kath believes production will be short-lived.

“The large hand sanitizer companies are going to be able to ramp up and get it into the supply chains,” he said.

Kath said the particulars of distribution should also be figured out soon.

Proof is joining a number of other distilleries around the United States and in Europe which have started making hand sanitizer to fill the gaps left by panic buying or hoarding that has followed the rapid growth in the number of reported cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by a novel coronavirus that was first reported in China.

Proof is located downtown at 414 4th Ave. N.

The artisan distiller makes vodka, gin, whiskey, aquavit and creme liqueur from locally grown potatoes, barley and corn.

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