Veteran-owned Hotel Tango Distillery in Indianapolis, Ind. has expanded its distilling operating to include an unconventional product – hand cleaner.
Since the distillery already owned the equipment to produce high-proof alcohol, Marine veteran Travis Barnes made the decision to begin producing a high-proof ethyl alcohol-based hand cleaner in response to the global shortage of hand sanitizer due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“With the shortage of hand sanitizers across the United States, we felt like we had to do something to help,” Barnes told American Military News. “This is a time for all of us to come together and combine our focused efforts to get COVID-19 under control.”
Hotel Tango – named so for Travis Barnes and his wife Hilary using the military phonetic alphabet – is the first combat-disabled, veteran-owned distillery in the U.S., and the first distillery to open in Indianapolis since Prohibition. They’ve produced and sold whiskey, bourbon and various other spirits since their founding in 2014.
The new hand cleaner is comprised of denatured alcohol and water, along with the FDA-approved ingredient xanthan gum. The company is producing it in a quarantined area separated from its typical spirits distilling and bottling area.
Hotel Tango has been filling bottles and containers as small as four ounces to as large as five gallons – whatever they can get their hands on. They plan to produce and distribute as much hand cleaner as possible while the need still exists – and that need is keeping them busy so far.
In fact, Hotel Tango now has purchase requests for the hand cleaner from all over the country, and the distillery is struggling to find enough bottles and supplies for the amount of cleaner demanded of them.
Fellow Indianapolis company Simplicity Cold Pressed Juice donated 2,000 empty bottles to Hotel Tango just last week, which the company described as a huge relief to help them catch up with the demand. On Monday, they received a shipment of 60,000 bottles.
Earlier this month, Hotel Tango received the green light via federal approval to begin distributing the hand cleaners. They donated their first 2,000 bottles of hand cleaner to charities around Indiana, such as homeless shelters, schools, fire stations, delivery services, and veteran charity Helping Veterans and Families of Indiana.
They also donated 150 bottles to the USS Indianapolis, and another 400 to a local National Guard unit deployed overseas.
“We’re filled with joy that we have been able to help folks through sales and donations all over the country,” Barnes said. “I’m very proud of my team’s gung-ho attitude. They have continued to persevere and lend a helping hand in any way we’ve asked through this unprecedented time.”
The public can place orders to purchase the hand cleaner at: sanitizerorders@
Charities can request donations of the hand cleaner at: donations@hoteltangowhiskey.