By Sarah Richardson
With the rapid spread of COVID-19 around the globe, nearly every business in America has seen drastic changes to their regular mode of operations- and Greenbrier County is no exception. Some are telecommuting, some are laid off until it’s safe to resume work, and everyone is confined to their houses as much as possible under the Governor’s stay-at-home order. Despite the chaos throwing us all for a curveball, our very own Smooth Ambler Spirits has been quick to make the best out of these terrible circumstances.
Smooth Ambler was founded in Maxwelton in 2009, and is known both locally and across the states for their assortment of “patiently made Appalachian spirits.” They have netted multiple prestigious awards, including a gold medal for their Contradiction Bourbon, and their Old Scout Single Barrel Straight Bourbon was named the Best Single Barrel Bourbon in the World by the World Whiskies Awards.
However, the rise of COVID-19 has brought changes to their distillery. Instead of producing liquors, Smooth Ambler is currently producing hand sanitizer to fill a critical need brought on by the virus. Many facilities are running low, and store shelves are bare nearly immediately after product is stocked. Smooth Ambler is working diligently in this time of crisis to help those that need it most, our medical providers on the front lines fighting this virus.
Smooth Amblers parent company, Pernod Ricard, says they have been working with federal officials and the World Health Organization (WHO) to make sure they produce safe, quality product. WHO requires ethanol, glycerin, and hydrogen peroxide to make sanitizer, and distilleries like Smooth Ambler already have the base ingredient- ethanol- and after that it’s a relatively simple process to make hand sanitizer.
Ann Mukherjee, Chairman and CEO of Pernod Ricard North America, said, “I am glad that we were able to form this public/private partnership and repurpose our spirits production facilities to meet a pressing, national need.”
“We consider it a donation – we will provide it free of charge,” said CEO of Smooth Ambler John Little. “It’s just the right thing to do.” He added that they have already been contacted by local medical facilities that are running low on sanitizing products.
Smooth Ambler’s website states, “We believe running our business the right way means doing right by our customers, our employees, and our home—no shortcuts, and no excuses. This purpose drives every decision we make, and it’s how we know we will continue to make a positive impact on our business, the whiskey industry, and on our greater community.” This commitment to the community clearly shows as they work diligently to help our healthcare facilities get through this pandemic.