Cooper King Distillery produced hand sanitiser in response to extreme shortage at the outbreak of the pandemic

Why Cooper King Distillery startedproducing hand sanitiser

At our York-based Distillery, business was booming, then COVID-19 hit. During the last week of March our sales plummeted, and 85% of revenue was lost overnight. We had a frantic 24 hours putting in place emergency finance plans, making calls to the bank, and insurers. This was followed by a number of enquiries from the public and key workers, highlighting the desperate need for hand sanitiser. A story of a distillery turning their hands to sanitiser production had emerged from the South of England; people wanted to know if Cooper King could do the same.

Recognising the national shortage of sanitiser, we knew we could step up and help. The ethos of Cooper King centres around environmental responsibilities, but, beyond this, social responsibility too.

Being a lean and agile company, we researched, developed, and produced the first batch of sanitiser in just five days, becoming the first distillery in Yorkshire to announce the production of hand sanitiser. This was a major undertaking. There was equipment to repurpose and materials to source, but we managed it and donated our entire first batch the following day to the local community and front-line staff.

The response on social media was incredible. It resulted in the distillery becoming inundated with requests for more product. Working through the figures helped us develop a strategy whereby sanitiser could be sold to the public and businesses, while the profits could be used to maintain a free supply to NHS, care homes and schools across the country.

In amongst the demand for more product, we have received heart-warming – and sometimes heart-wrenching – messages of thanks. Some of the organisations and people who have received donations include, hospital A&E departments, intensive care units, care homes, schools, the Royal Mail, mental health trusts, autism charities and even Mountain Rescue. In total, the distillery has donated sanitiser to 60 organisations. The impact on each organisation has been considerable – with one trust sharing that they would have had to turn away vulnerable patients if it wasn’t for the sanitiser we supplied to them.

Following our donations during the pandemic, we have been recommended for an Entrepreneurs Award by our local MP, Kevin Hollinrake.

Out of all of this, the message to take home is, there are a lot of positive stories out there of people doing good for their communities. The more these stories are shared, the more others will be inspired to help their communities during this turbulent time.

Donations List

  • Sutton-on-the-Forest Primary School
  • York A&E
  • St Leonard’s Hospice
  • Children’s Safeguarding Hambleton & Thirsk
  • Home Instead Senior Care York
  • Stillington Post Office
  • Mental Health & Vulnerable People’s Tea, for North Yorkshire
  • Leeds ICU Teaching Hospitals
  • Home Care Direct
  • Akari Care
  • Holme Valley Mountain Rescue Team
  • Royal Mail Leeds
  • UK Maritime Pilots
  • Autism Plus
  • Easingwold caregroup
  • Peppermill Court Mental Health Hospital
  • Norton CP School
  • Housing 21 Home Health Care
  • Calder valley search and rescue team
  • Occupational Therapist (York)
  • Royal Mail, Tadcaster
  • Leeds Central Ambulance Station
  • Avante Care
  • Tees, esk and wear valleys NHS foundation trust
  • Home Instead Senior Care
  • Royal Mail – Alfreton
  • Wigton Community Volunteers
  • Local farmers
  • Prestwick Care
  • Centrepoint
  • Hadrian Healthcare Group
  • Supplies for Key Workers
  • Millfield surgery
  • First Responder
  • Chase Park Neuro Centre
  • Dementia Matters
  • Bluebird Care York
  • Friends of St Monica’s Hospital
  • Bradford NHS
  • The Supper Club
  • York Road Residential Care
  • Medicine deliveries
  • Humber Teaching NHS Foundation Trust
  • Longley Park View Nursing Home
  • York Community Therapy Team
  • Safehands Homecare
  • Longley Park View Nursing
  • The ExtraCare Charitable Trust
  • Mental Health and Vulnerable People’s Team for North Yorkshire
  • Balls to Cancer
  • Ambulance Wish Foundation
  • Hampers 4 Nurses
  • Community Staff Nurses (Newcastle under Lyme)
  • Tyne Housing Association
  • Wilberfocre Trust
  • Scarborough & Ryedale Mountain Rescue
  • North Yorkshire Police
  • Gateshead Council
  • Birchlands Care Home
  • Amarna House

About Cooper King Distillery

Cooper King Distillery is a self-built, crowd-funded whisky and gin distillery near York, producing sustainable spirits underpinned by craftsmanship, honesty and adventure.

Cooper King Distillery is England’s only self-built whisky and gin distillery, and one of only a handful in the country to run on 100% green energy. Producing the first gin in Europe with 1% for the Planet® accreditation, 1 square metre of English woodland is planted for every bottle of gin sold. To date, 10,000 square metres of native woodland have been planted with charity partner the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust.