Switching production

Local distillery moves from spirit production to making hand sanitizer


ROCHELLE – During tough times like the country is currently facing, many organizations are coming together to help each other through.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the country has been facing a shortage of cleaning supplies and hand sanitizer. Many distilleries throughout the country, including Rochelle’s local Kennay Farms Distilling, have switched from making spirits to making hand sanitizer.

The governing agency gave the Kennays approval to go ahead with making hand sanitizer on Thursday and the distillery began working right away on the first batch Friday morning. The decision was made based on the need in the community, as well as what the family felt was the right thing to do.

“We realized that there was a need and that we needed to get production up and running,” said Evan Quinn, member of the Kennay family and vice president of marketing. “We saw the need to band together as a family to help out the Rochelle community and northern Illinois the best we possibly can.”

The process of making the hand sanitizer is nearly the same as alcohol and uses the same corn distilled in spirits. The corn is distilled to an alcohol percentage of 78 and then additional ingredients such as glycerol and hydrogen peroxide are added.

Once the product is finished and packaged, it is being sent to health care providers and first responders in the area. The goal of the distillery is to stock the system, to get things as balanced as possible in the regional area.

The distillery has been given the green light to continue producing hand sanitizer until the middle of June. It has begun making its first batch and hopes to have it ready to be distributed by the end of the day Friday, March 20. While the demand for spirits was still there, Kennay Farms representatives said they did what they felt was the right thing to do.

“We could have chosen to continue distilling and distributing our whiskey, vodka and gin,” said Quinn. “But, that just did not seem right to us when we could be doing something for the greater good instead.”