DULUTH – Vikre Distillery is putting its alcohol to work in the fight against COVID-19.

The Canal Park distillery started giving away sanitizer Monday to "those who need it."

"We're giving people an option — I know a lot of places are out of it," said cocktail room manager David Moreira. "It's not cheap, but it is worth it and in the best interest of everyone. We're going to get through all this together."

The sprayable sanitizer has 70% alcohol (federal guidelines suggest at least 60% to be effective) and will be given away between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. in the coming days.

Folks are asked to bring their own containers, no larger than 16 ounces, and knock on the door if it is locked.

"We've had a bunch of people coming in throughout the day," Moreira said Tuesday.

The distillery is also offering gallon-size pails of sanitizer for businesses that call ahead.

Though safe for hands, Vikre said those with sensitive skin should use caution because it wasn't able to add aloe, as it is out of stock.

Production on its regular offerings will continue while the cocktail room is closed, Moreira said.

"We'll just be patient and keep making a good product," he said.

The pandemic-prompted run on hand sanitizer and other germ-fighting supplies has led to a black market often charging outrageous prices for household staples. Vikre joins several distilleries nationwide that are giving away sanitizer.

Skaalven Distillery in Brooklyn Park is warning folks against distillery-produced sanitizers, however, since it is regulated as an over-the-counter pharmaceutical.

"We have plenty of alcohol here to make sanitizer. We wanted to make sanitizer. After brief research, we no longer have any interest in making sanitizer unless we have been directed to do so by the governing authorities," Skaalven co-owner Tyson Schnitker said. "I realize some may see this as harmless, but we have the FDA and laws for a reason."

Schnitker reached out to the Minnesota Distillers Guild to discourage businesses from taking the matter into their own hands, "since we cannot ensure the quality, potency, or safety of sanitizer we manufacture."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say washing hands with soap for at least 20 seconds is the preferred way to keep hands clean.

Brooks Johnson • 218-491-6496