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Lone Star Distilleries Step Up in the Fight Against the Coronavirus

Mike Espindle and Kiley Faulkner | June 4, 2020 | Food & Drink Features

In response to COVID-19, Desert Door Distillery (, which is usually busy creating the rare sotol spirit (akin to mezcal and tequila), is producing hand sanitizer at its Driftwood facility, donating it to first responders, restaurants, shelters, senior centers and community organizations across the Lone Star State. Co-founders (and native Texans) Judson Kauffman, Ryan Campbell and Brent Looby saw an immense sudden need for an in-demand product their distillery was already equipped to manufacture and immediately shifted gears to help. The resulting hand sanitizer comprises 80% alcohol and adheres to World Health Organization and FDA standards.


Desert Door Distillery founders Brent Looby, Judson Kauffman and Ryan Campbell

Desert Door kicked off its initiative with a donation of 1,000 bottles to the Houston Police Officers’ Union. Since production began in mid-March, it has already surpassed its original goal of producing 20,000 8-ounce bottles. “So far, Desert Door has donated the equivalent of 70,000 8-ounce bottles to our surrounding communities,” says Campbell. “Desert Door was in a unique position to be one of the quickest organizations to help the community that generally supports us and our Texas sotol because of our specialized equipment and vendor relationships. Our team has been motivated by this new sense of purpose and we’re honored to help the cause.”

In addition to supplying the Houston Police Department, Desert Door has donated sanitizer to the Austin, San Antonio and Corpus Christi police departments, as well as Texas Parks and Wildlife—all free of charge.

In nearby Austin, Garrison Brothers Distillery (garrisonbros.‌com) had originally planned to release its 10-years-in-the-making Laguna Madre special-edition bourbon to loyal friends and partners. Now, Texas’ oldest legal distillery is gifting the very special edition to the first 2,004 people who donate $1,000 or more to its Operation Crush COVID-19 initiative that benefits vet-led disaster support organization Team Rubicon.


TX Whiskey in Fort Worth is producing hand sanitizer

And closer to home, Fort Worth-based TX Whiskey (—part of the Pernod Ricard portfolio—is among the liquor group’s many U.S. distilleries that have switched to hand sanitizer production. At press time, TX Whiskey was on track to produce more than 5,000 bottles in a variety of sizes, with first shipments going to local FEMA initiatives. “Though production is just beginning to ramp up, we are eager to see how the TX sanitizer process here at our distillery will supply those in need,” says TX Whiskey General Manager Paul Di Vito.


Photography by: Photos by John Davidson and courtesy of brands