ROCHELLE — Employees at Kennay Farms Distilling are working more now than they did before their tasting room was shut down last month to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Since they switched from manufacturing spirits to hand sanitizer, the office has been fielding 400 calls a day, 12 hours a day. Their online order system has more than 400 entries at the moment.
“As fast as things have been moving, we haven’t been able to get bottles in,” said Aubrey Quinn, in charge of marketing and logistics at the distillery. “We haven’t had to lay off a single employee. Everyone is still working as much as they’d like to.”
Kennay Farms recently donated its initial hundreds of gallons of sanitizer to area first responders and hospitals. The distillery tried to donate to organizations within a 50-mile radius of Rochelle.
Last week, social media thank you posts emerged from Ogle County sheriff and Dixon and Polo police departments.
“We live in a rural Midwest community, and everyone is trying to help each other,” Ogle County Sheriff Brian VanVickle said of the donation, and the way the community has come together amid COVID-19. “That’s what’s great about this community, and it’s why people want to live here.”
Even first responders from Rockford and Chicago approached Kennay Farms about sanitizer. They were given their first case free with a purchase.
The distillery worked to meet all required health standards when they created and donated the sanitizer.
“The hospitals have to be very stringent on what they bring in and have to properly vet it,” Quinn said. “We went through the correct steps.”
The distillery is producing hand sanitizer and selling it for $20 a bottle, or $220 for a case of 12 bottles. It's being sold at Ace Hardware, Benny’s Convenience Store and Liquor and Wine in Rochelle.
Orders have also been take from gas stations across the state, including a large order from Johnson Oil, who owns Shell stations in the Sauk Valley.
Customers also can buy the sanitizer at the distillery at 416 Lincoln Highway. With the shortage of bottles, customers are being asked to bring their own containers, and buy it by the ounce, or buy it in growlers or 5-gallon buckets. Sanitizer also is being sold in bulk.
Sanitizer sales have helped the distillery recoup income it has lost when its tasting room closed.
“After some large initial costs from inputs and changeover, we’ve been able to offset a lot of that,” Quinn said. “We’re just going to continue producing hand sanitizer until our phones stop ringing.”
Kennay Farms Distilling is still selling its trademark spirits as well. Carry out hours will be changing as needed. During those times, customers can buy a bottle, growler, or gift card to use later.
Call 815-901-1512, go to kennayfarmsdistilling.com or find the distillery on Facebook for more information.