West Lothian distillery starts producing hand sanitiser for NHS

Rum makers turn hand to new challenge

Monday, 13th April 2020, 7:30 am
Six-year-old Mahya produced a rainbow design for the packaging
Six-year-old Mahya produced a rainbow design for the packaging

A DISTILLERY in West Lothian has started producing hand sanitiser to help meet demand during the coronavirus crisis.

Matugga Distillers Ltd in Livingston normally crafts its own rum, but is now also making sanitiser to supply to the frontline of the pandemic.

Jacine and Paul Rutasikwa, who opened the distillery in 2018, are responding to a plea from the Scottish Government which wrote to businesses last month asking them to consider how they could help deliver critical supplies to the NHS.

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Jacine said: “Everyone is affected by this and we’re just trying to see what we can do to help. In ordinary times we produce rum from scratch - Scottish rum. It’s distributed in the UK and we also export to Europe.”

But she said business had slowed due to the lockdown.

“Bars and restaurants are all closed. People can still buy direct from our website, but we’re obviously not able to get out and sell our rum as we normally would.”

She said like many other businesses they had received a letter from trade minister Ivan McKee setting out some of the key items - from masks to ventilators - needed in the battle against coronavirus.

“We’re part of the Scottish distillers’ network and collectively we wanted to see what we could do to make saintisers. We’ve been working together to navigate the regulations.

“Our rum is made from sugar cane molasses so our sanitiser is a blend of cane spririt and grain spirit,but we’ve had to procure chemicals as well.

“We produced our first batch of sanitiser this week and from next week we will be distributing it primarily to care providers, care homes, food banks and community support groups.”

The couple’s six-year-old daughter Mahya has produced a rainbow design for the packaging. And Livingston Round Table has offered to help distribute it.

Some of the sanitiser will go to the RBS foodbank appeal at Gogarburn backed by the Evening News. “We’ve been part of RBS accelerator programme and the entrepreneurs hub at Gogarburn so we’ll be donating some of the sanitiser to the foodbank appeal.”