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Prohibition Distillery helping during COVID-19

Patricio Robayo - Staff Writer
Posted 5/25/20

ROSCOE — While some businesses are struggling to make ends meet during the COVID-19 pandemic, others are redirecting their production for the greater good.

Brian Facquet, owner of the …

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Prohibition Distillery helping during COVID-19


ROSCOE — While some businesses are struggling to make ends meet during the COVID-19 pandemic, others are redirecting their production for the greater good.

Brian Facquet, owner of the Prohibition Distillery in Roscoe, lost a significant part of his business. While his company was considered essential and was able to operate, he could not have customers walk through his doors.

The majority of his business comes from New York City, where now, bars and restaurants have also closed in the statewide effort to stop the spread of COVID-19.

But Facquet did not wallow in his sorrow - he thought of others and got to work. He watched as hospitals, and residents were scouring through online retailers and stores to purchase hand sanitizer.

He saw a need and wanted to do his part.

“I had a choice to either shut my doors...or make sanitizer to help people. So I took all of our money, and I put it into hand sanitizer,” said Facquet.

For 12 years, Facquet has been making spirits, and this time around, he partnered with an ethanol company in Western New York Energy, LLC.

Facquet bought all new bottling equipment to make hand sanitizer, and instead of filling small bottles one would find in a store, he is filling five-gallon buckets.

“We use the federal FDA guidelines,” said Facquet. “We're using 80 percent ethanol, extremely high proof, which actually works to sanitize. [And] we use food-grade glycerin and food-grade hydrogen peroxide.”

After making the sanitizer, he began to act as a conduit of information between Washington D.C. and Albany.

“I went and helped advise other distilleries to go and set up their operations to do it in this manner,” said Facquet.

He was recently in Washington D.C. when President Trump honored truck drivers who were delivering during the pandemic and was mentioned by the truck drivers, as they were delivering his hand sanitizer.

Facquet said they are capable of making 10,000 gallons a week of sanitizer that can be distributed to hospitals, schools, and manufacturing plants.

“It's amazing to see what we did for the last five or six weeks and how our little company that was making 100 gallons a week turned into making 40,000 gallons [over the past six weeks],” said Facquet.

However, Facquet said this would not last forever; the Food and Drug Administration had not extended the right for a distillery to make sanitizer. That right ends on June 30.

“There's no possible way that June is going to be the time where we need less production of these types of materials. I think we're going to be in a situation here where we actually need two or three years worth of these types of materials because it's going to be a long road to recovery,” said Melinda Mack. She runs the New York State Workforce Development Association, also known as NYATEP.

Mack said using Facquet's new products has helped those who are not necessarily deemed essential but needed Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and sanitizer.

“For New York City homeless shelters or individuals who work on the front line delivering meals to seniors, this is a resource that they could direct purchase from because they are also struggling to figure out ways to be able to access this stuff and be safe,” said Mack.

Distilleries like Prohibition can play a vital role in the reopening phase of New York, said Mack.

When a business does open up, there will have to be protocols in place that will be necessary for workers to feel safe, she said.

Mack said, “It's going to become a job quality issue. Employers are going to have to be able to say, ‘I'm meeting the CDC guidelines and more, and these are the things that I have in place. And these are some of the products that I'm using to keep you safe.'”

Facquet said a lot of employees in the hospitality industry are scared about when they reopen. Despite the companies following the rules for social distancing and wearing a mask, not all patrons might believe in those protocols.

“It's a different world, and I'm hoping it's not just a matter of getting our places [open] - it's getting people to realize that this is not a political thing, it's a protective thing,” said Facquet. “You're [the business] following a rule, but then you're also getting that direct conflict of someone thinking that you're challenging their rights. It's not challenging; it's just common decency.”

To hear the interview in its entirely, listen to the Sullivan County Democrat Podcast, which can be found on Apple Podcast and Soundcloud.


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