From spirits to sanitizer, Old Trestle Distillery switches gears to help out community |

From spirits to sanitizer, Old Trestle Distillery switches gears to help out community

There’s something new going on inside the walls of Old Trestle Distillery, but it won’t make for a good martini.

In response to widespread shortages, the distillery has switched gears, and is now making hand sanitizer, which it’s donating to the community.

“It would be totally inappropriate to wrap a business around this kind of emergency,” said Andy Barr, general manager. “We’re donating it to the community, and then we’re providing it for Sierra Senior Services, the fire department, the hospital, and the police department.”

Barr said the idea of making hand sanitizer came about as soon as he started seeing shortages of the product pop up across the nation. Old Trestle Distillery began making hand sanitizer roughly two weeks ago, joining hundreds of other distilleries, from industry giants like Tito’s Vodka to small operations in Reno, that have made the switch.

“One of the things that we can obviously do as a distillery is to produce high alcohol,” said Barr. “We figured if we could support the community by producing hand sanitizer, we should … it’s not going to solve everyone’s problem, but it’s something.”

Since first starting to make hand sanitizer, Barr said the distillery has churned out roughly 2,000 bottles, which hold a couple ounces each. The most difficult obstacle thus far, according to Barr, has been finding enough glycerin and hydrogen peroxide to keep up with demand. He said the distillery has gone through ordering the ingredients online, running around to different stores to buy up what they could, and also receiving a donation of hydrogen peroxide from Tahoe Forest Health System. The distillery, which is also producing larger bottles of hand sanitizer for first responders, has enough product on hand to make roughly another 2,000 bottles of hand sanitizer.

“They’ve been making that available to both the hospital district and first responders,” said Truckee Town Council member David Tirman. “Thank you to Andy and Alicia Barr — great community players … it’s good to see this creative thinking.”

Another issue Barr said he’s come across has been an influx of articles and videos giving directions on how to make hand sanitizer. And while the process is relatively simple, Barr added there’s a lot of misinformation, and that many recipes he’s seen wouldn’t meet the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention requirements for coronavirus, which state a hand sanitizer must contain at least 60% alcohol.

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Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. Contact him at or 530-550-2643.

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