From handcrafted spirits to hand sanitizer, Nelson County distillery shifts production

Published: Mar. 25, 2020 at 9:36 PM EDT
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The fermentation tanks are full at Silverback Distillery in Afton.

But a business known for its award-winning spirits is now trying its hand at something different.

"Fermenting right now, it's a corn mash from a local farmer in Nelson County," Christine Riggleman said in a video from the distillery. "We're going to turn this into our hand sanitizer alcohol."

Silverback Distillery is owned by Riggleman and her husband, 5th District Congressman Denver Riggleman.

Like others who run small businesses, they're scrambling to deal with the current crisis, but say they felt compelled to help health care workers and others on the front lines.

"We're in the same boat that everybody else is," Christine Riggleman told WDBJ7, "but I have a skill-set and the equipment that our family business can help, so shame on me if we didn't step up to the plate when there is a need."

Riggleman said the need and the response have been overwhelming.

For now, their hand sanitizer is reserved for first responders, but soon they hope a much larger batch will supply the public from the Silverback Distillery website.

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