Patty and Joe Cunha, owners of Twin Stills Distillery in Riverhead, with the hand-sanitizer they're making to give away to the community. Photo: Denise Civiletti

Twin Stills Moonshine in Riverhead, distillers of O’Oldtymer Moonshine, is adding a new product to their inventory: hand sanitizer.

Owners Joe and Patty Cunha are making the much sought-after hand sanitizer to give away to the public, starting tomorrow.

“We got an email from the federal government describing guidelines for making a hand sanitizer,” Joe Cunha said.

Licensed distilleries are now permitted by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau to make hand sanitizer, with the hope that the distilleries can help meet some of the demand for the product, which has been sold out in stores across the country because of the coronavirus pandemic. Health officials advise people to use sanitizer whenever they cannot wash their hands with soap and water — something officials say people should do once per hour to avoid spreading the virus.

Joe and Patty Cunha, owners of Twin Stills Brewery in Riverhead, filling bottles with hand-sanitizer this afternoon. Photo: Denise Civiletti

“We thought — why not? Let’s make it and give it away,” Patty Cunha said.

So they made a special batch of alcohol — the sanitizer must be between 50% and 70% alcohol.

Patty went shopping for aloe vera gel and talked a Walgreens manager in Wading River into letting her buy four bottles — twice the store limit of two per customer.

She found three-ounce plastic bottles in Target, printed labels for them and this afternoon, Patty and Joe started filling them with the alcohol-aloe mixture.

“We’re going to give away one per person,” Patty Cunha said.

If anyone has any aloe they’d like to donate, Twin Stills would be glad to take it to make more sanitizer for the community.

They’ll keep distilling the alcohol, Joe Cunha said. “We’d like to produce as much as we can,” he said.

Twin Stills Moonshine just celebrated its fourth anniversary.

“People come in here as strangers but they leave as family,” Patty Cunha said. “We wanted to give back to the community and this seemed like the perfect opportunity,” she said.

“I think if we just stand together as a community,” her husband said, “we’ll get through this.”

Twin Stills is open 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. tomorrow. While they cannot serve on-premises because of state restrictions to combat coronavirus, they are still selling bottles to go.

Photo: Denise Civiletti

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Denise Civiletti
Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.