Danish authorities are pushing companies across the country to find ways of making hand sanitiser and protective equipment for doctors and nurses, as a global shortage threatens to cripple hospitals as they prepare to treat a wave of coronavirus cases.
Tørk Eskild Furhauge, chief executive of Naturfrisk Group, told Danish state broadcaster DR that he had quickly realised the role his company's Nyborg Distillery, on the Danish island of Funen, could play.
“We have a very special distillery. It is perhaps the only one in Denmark that can produce 90 percent alcohol in sufficient quantities that, I believe, we have a duty to offer it up if the authorities are looking for alcohol.”
Breweries from across Denmark have offered beer and cider for the project, with Carlsberg donating 17,200 litres of Somersby cider.
Some 8,000 litres of beer from the local Ørbæk brewery has already been turned into 8,000 litres of 90 percent alcohol at the distillery, with the alcohol then sent to a factory in Billund operated by Gundal, where it was turned into hand sanitiser.
The 8,000 litres is roughly enough, Furhauge said, to supply a single major hospital for 24 hours.
He said he hoped the distillery will continue producing alcohol at a rate of about 2,000 litres a day until the coronavirus crisis is over.
Naturfrisk is not the only international drinks manufacturer repurposing distilleries. The French drinks giant Pernod Ricard last week converted several US distilleries to make hand sanitiser, winning them the approval of US President Donald Trump.