J. Rieger Distillery temporarily producing hand sanitizer

Michael Bushnell
Publisher
Northeast News

The J. Rieger Distillery might be closed for regular hospitality business but the hand sanitizer game is a whole new ball game. The East Bottoms based distillery will be offering their signature line of hand sanitizer again this morning at 11am for drive through customers only.  Yesterday’s stock sold out within an hour but with the constant production of product, more will be available today.

Customers are asked to line up on Guinotte Avenue and follow the detour signs to the product tents located on the west side of the main distillery building.

“Monday afternoon we made a decision to do a complete pivot in our business model to become a more or less a scrappy business that does a lot of different things in order to weather the storm” said J. Rieger President Andy Rieger.  

That decision to pivot the business means a lot to Leavenworth, Kansas resident Steven DeWalt. DeWalt who is disabled, had difficulty finding basic supplies so he and his wife made the early morning trek from Leavenworth in order to be second in line to secure a bottle of J. Rieger hand sanitizer.

“The people in here, this is an awesome place,” DeWalt said. “We couldn’t get toilet paper, we couldn’t get hand sanitizer, nothing and my wife brought me down here this morning.” These people in here are a godsend to offer the opportunity to get this kind of thing. “This is an awesome place,” DeWalt added.

The J. Rieger team made the production pivot from hard spirits to commercial grade alcohol in roughly thirty-six hours. Ironically, a little over one hundred years ago, the Heim Brewery had to make the same decision  to move away from beer bottling when the Volstead Act was enacted in 1919 ushering in the era of prohibition. 

“This was the old Heim Bottling Plant during pre-prohibition years,” Reiger said. “Once prohibition hit, they actually sold the building and it was repurposed to a commercial grade alcohol producer. Here we are 100 years later and we are more or less repurposing this building away from beverage alcohol to commercial grade alcohol,” Rieger noted.

Rieger offered high praise for his family of employees.  “This shift has allowed us to have an incredible group and every single person has stepped up to a level unlike anything you’ve ever seen  and you have to attribute that to that family thing we’ve been so fortunate to build here.”

Hand sanitizer will begin selling at 11am while supplies last for the day/until we run out. First come, first served. We ask that everyone please stay in your vehicle. We will have tent set up outside the distillery for curb side pick-up. Pay what you can. Suggested pricing is $5 for 2oz bottles and $30 for 2-liter bottles, there is a limit on number of bottles per customer. See the attached map for parking and pick up clarification. 

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