CASTRIES/FORT DE FRANCE — Many spirits and liquor producers across the Caribbean are mobilizing efforts in response to the growing need for sanitizing solutions which are critical to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
Grenada-based Blue Light Distillery also joined the fight against the virus. The company, run by Jim Jardine that initially manufactures gin is one of the beneficiaries of the INTERREG Trade Enhancement for the Eastern Caribbean (TEECA) project, which is coordinated by the Chamber of Commerce of Martinique (CCI Martinique) along with the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), the Territorial Collectivity of Martinique and the Caribbean Export Development Agency (Caribbean Export).
Sanitizers became scarce or impossible to find in supermarkets in Grenada, as soon as the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed on the island on March 22, 2020.
The handmade gin brand Blue Light Distillery decided to embark on the manufacture of antiseptic solutions based on alcohol and aloe vera in response to this unprecedented situation. As of March 24, 2020, the company began to produce 100 bottles of 500 ml per day to supply the supermarkets.
The Director of Blue Gin Distillery Aaron Salyer explained its decisions to revamp the production from hand-crafted gin made with wild Canadian juniper berries to hand sanitizers made with alcohol and aloe vera.
“Blue Light Distillery decided to manufacture hand sanitizers for two reasons. First of all, we have access to the high percentage alcohol necessary to make the antiseptic products which are essential in the fight against COVID-19. It also enables us to keep the business afloat during this crisis. Tourism plays a big role in our business. However, bars and hotels are closed, and cruise ships no longer dock in Grenada because of the pandemic,” Salyer said.
The Director of Blue Gin Distillery also indicated that donations of sanitizers were made to senior citizens’ facilities and to people who are most affected by poverty on the island. The curfew introduced in Grenada on March 30 and the ban on the sale of alcohol has also impacted the young company founded in 2018.
The involvement in the fight against COVID-19 enabled the only hand-crafted gin manufacturing distillery of the island to survive while praying for the end of the pandemic and the return to normal economic and tourist activities in Grenada.