Minister Fedeli (yellow mask) with Mayor Lowry (right), local MPPs, and Dairy Distillery owners (back)

by Edith Cody-Rice 

On this beautiful summer day, representatives of the Ontario government visited Almonte to  announce that the Dairy Distillery, the innovative makers of Vodkow, have been awarded $455,000 from the  Ontario Together Fund to expand their production of hand sanitizer. Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade Vic Fedeli made the announcement at noon today.

At the beginning of the pandemic the distillery, which uses milk byproducts which would otherwise go to waste to produce vodka, pivoted from producing their successful Vodkow vodka to making hand sanitizer which it provided to local businesses, hospitals and other organizations. See the Millstone story on the switch.

The Minister and MPPs tour the distillery

With the grant the distillery will expand its facilities and buy new equipment to triple its output of the coveted sanitizer. Already, through its “Buy one to give one program”, Dairy Distillery has donated over 30,000 bottles of hand sanitizer to local groups in need.

As the minister noted, Dairy Distillery was provided with no manual, no guide and the pivot from vodka to hand sanitizer relied entirely on the distillery’s innovation.

The Minister at centre, with Mayor Lowry at left and Dairy Distillery’s Omid McDonald at right

CEO Omid McDonald said that the transition now feels like it happened two years ago. When the pandemic struck, the distillery had 10,000 litres of ethanol in the huge distiller vats. The owners quickly moved to distill this into ethanol for hand sanitizers which are 80% alcohol.

Dairy Distillery has created 100,000 litres of ethanol for hand sanitizers in 5 months. He says that he feels honoured to support businesses and organizations in need like the Shepherds of Good Hope. With the grant, the distillery will produce 250,000 litres of ethanol to use in hand sanitizers.