CAPE MAY, NJ — With hand sanitizer in demand during the coronavirus, COVID-19 pandemic, the makers of spirits are stepping up.

To do its part, Nauti Spirits Distillery in Cape May teamed up with Partners Pharmacy, which has a facility in Springfield, to make FDA-approved hand sanitizer instead of its usual vodka, rum and gin.

“We would like nothing better than to go back to making and selling artisan farm spirits, rather than hand sanitizer. But hand sanitizer is the need; great spirits are a desire,” said Steve Miller, president of Nauti Spirits Distillery. “Desire takes a back seat these days.”

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The two businesses came up with the idea to make hand sanitizer just as the FDA approved a temporary policy during the coronavirus pandemic that allows state-licensed pharmacies to make the virus-killing product.

 “It’s important for us to recognize the fact that we’re registered, licensed healthcare workers in the state. We’re a key part of keeping people healthy,” said Jim Matthews, executive vice-president of operations of Partners Pharmacy.

The hand sanitizer is made with high proof grain neutral spirit that had been distilled at Nauti Spirits over the last several months. It’s usually used to make vodka. The grain neutral spirit is added to distilled water, hydrogen peroxide, propylene glycol, tea tree oil and vitamin E oil to make hand sanitizer.

MORE: New Jersey’s Wineries Struggle to Survive Coronavirus Shut Down

The companies are donating some of the hand sanitizer they make to health care workers, first responders and those living in assisted living facilities. First responders in Cape May and the Cherry Hill Police Department are among those who have so far received some.

Nauti Spirits is also selling bottles at the distillery. Two-ounce spray bottles cost $3.50, 16-ounce bottles cost $9 and 32-ounce bottles cost $17.

People so far have been appreciative of the product.

Chef David Burke is giving out a bottle of the hand sanitizer with takeout orders at his Drifthouse restaurant in Sea Bright. The restaurant has a partnership with Nauti Spirits.

 “We love that it’s a Jersey-made product and we appreciated their sustainable approach, since much of their farm supplies were the ingredients used to make the rum, gin and vodka,” said Burke.

Nauti Spirits has no intention of stopping any time soon.

“We will continue making the hand sanitizer until there is no longer a need for it, or until we have to shut our doors permanently because we can no longer afford to keep the lights on,” said Miller.

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