Lethbridge distillery makes sanitizer and sizeable donation to fight COVID-19

Black Velvet Distillery is brewing up something a little different to help southern Alberta.

The Black Velvet new hand sanitizer will be sent out to a range of organizations now that the facility has gotten the green light from officials.

“First responders, senior care facilities, government agencies, other high-risk populations in Lethbridge and surrounding area” will all receive the product, Black Velvet Distillery vice-president and general manager Claude Bilodeau said.

“The Health Canada approval process was rigid and it took time,” Bilodeau added.

He says it was only natural to start contributing during the COVID-19 pandemic, and that the new venture has allowed the company to hire six new employees whose jobs were affected by the crisis. 

“It’s a slow process,” Bilodeau explained. “It’s not something we were set up to do from a label perspective. So we’re labelling it by hand and bottling it by hand.”

The distillery’s new American parent company, Heaven Hills, is also contributing in a big way, with a $400,000 donation spread across its cities of operation. 

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A contribution of $10,000 will be going directly to the United Way of Lethbridge and Southwestern Alberta to distribute among local initiatives.

“I know Black Velvet is really appreciative of the support that their now-parent organization is providing to the community,” Connolly Tate-Mitchell with the United Way said.

“A donation like that means a lot for us too.

“We’re going to be able to support a lot of different programs, to support people in the community who are really struggling right now, so it’s a really beautiful thing to have that.”

Tate-Mitchell says that the donation itself was quite a pleasant surprise, especially given the crucial timing.

“They were actually quite quiet about it,” she said. “They’re pretty humble about their support.”

Black Velvet Distillery has already distilled and packaged around 34,000 bottles of sanitizer.

“We’ve been here since 1973 and supporting this community since then. Everyone in this building is proud,” Bilodeau said.

“We’re proud to support the community.”

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