Budweiser and Hennessy Makers Are Donating Tons of Booze to Make Hand Sanitizer
Anheuser-Busch InBev and Diageo are teaming up to donate over 2 million liters of ethanol, the kind of alcohol you drink, to make disinfectants as the coronavirus pandemic continues to wreck daily life.
Published on March 24, 2020

On Monday, Anheuser-Busch InBev and Diageo, the makers of Budweiser beer and Hennessy cognac, respectively, joined forces to donate millions of liters of alcohol — or over 700 tons — around the world for crafting disinfectants and hand sanitizers.

Commercial sanitizers have become rare, valuable commodities during the coronavirus pandemic — especially in the US, where Americans continue to panic-buy and hoard supplies in preparation for the viral outbreak to get worse. 

“This is the quickest and most effective way for us to meet the surging demand for hand sanitizer around the world,” Diageo CEO Ivan Menezes said in a statement, according to Reuters.

The latest partnership of party suppliers indicates that private enterprises are stepping up to address shortcomings that governments still have yet to resolve. Anheuser-Busch, headquartered in the US, is the world’s largest beer manufacturer. The company produces Beck’s, Stella Artois, Bass Pale Ale, Busch Beer, Michelob, and Natural Light, alongside Budweiser. 

The UK’s Diageo, on the other hand, is the world’s largest distiller. It’s known for making Guinness stout; Smirnoff vodka; Baileys Irish Cream; Tanqueray gin; Captain Morgan rum; and Johnny Walker, Crown Royal, and Seagram’s whiskeys. The company has also owned part of Moët Hennessy, the company that produces Hennessy, for the past decade.

While people have cleaned out store shelves of rubbing alcohol and hand sanitizer to prevent the spread of COVID-19, liquor store shelves remain stocked on Everclear, which is 95 percent ethyl alcohol. Studies show that solutions of 60 to 85 percent ethyl alcohol will kill the coronavirus on skin and surfaces. 

Combined, Anheuser-Busch InBev and Diageo plan to donate well over 2 million liters of 95-percent ethyl alcohol, with the bulk of it coming from Diageo, for now. In other words, more than 8 million 250mL bottles of free alcohol. Anheuser-Busch InBev will source its free booze from its non-alcoholic beer and malt liquor brands, Reuters reported. Diageo is getting its alcohol from its liquor products, and both companies will package the free alcohol in 8 oz. bottles bearing the brand labels that the booze was pulled from. 

So, basically, there will be bottles of Tanqueray and Johnny Walker filled with Everclear getting shipped to hospitals around the world in the near future.

Since no country has been safe from the COVID-19 pandemic, both companies will distribute the free alcohol to healthcare workers and laborers in the most vulnerable communities. Countries on the list of ethyl alcohol recipients are the US, Italy, India, Australia, Brazil, the UK, and Kenya. Organizations such as the Red Cross are at the top of the list to first receive some alcohol.

Furthermore, the Budweiser and Tanqueray makers aren’t the only two booze outfits donating their goods to curb the coronavirus crisis. Smaller breweries and distilleries in the US South, Oregon, and Connecticut are also donating ethyl alcohol for relief efforts, though they ask the public to bring their own containers, as well as a monetary donation if one can be spared.

Pernod Ricard, the maker of Jameson whisky, was one of the first major alcohol companies to offer its booze for making hand sanitizer. The company has already donated 70,000 liters, or nearly 23 tons, of ethyl alcohol for the effort. 

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, bottles of hand sanitizer such as Purell went for about $2. Aerosol cans of disinfectants like Lysol went for maybe $3. But now, as supplies have run out globally, third-party vendors on sites such as Amazon, eBay, Walmart, and Target are offering single bottles of hand sanitizer at the opportunistic price of $50 or more. 

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Randy Robinson
Based in Denver, Randy studied cannabinoid science while getting a degree in molecular biology at the University of Colorado. When not writing about cannabis, science, politics, or LGBT issues, they can be found exploring nature somewhere in the Rocky Mountains. Catch Randy on Twitter and Instagram @randieseljay
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