Photography Provided by Addison Ray, Visit Indy & Hotel Tango
Hotel Tango was the first artisan distillery in Indianapolis, with its initial location in Fletcher Place along Virginia Avenue. It’s also the first craft distillery that is service-disabled veteran-owned in the United States and they have several employees with military experience. Their tasting rooms are the cornerstone of their business.
At a team meeting in mid-March to discuss how their company could help with the COVID-19 pandemic, someone suggested that they explore making hand sanitizer. Due to their normal production of spirits, Hotel Tango had all of the ingredients on hand and by the end of that day, they had created their first batch of hand sanitizer.
Regulations require that the hand sanitizer production be in a separate facility. Fortunately, there was space in their adjacent catering facility, The Fox Hole. The Fox Hole’s 4,000 square feet was quickly transformed into a production area for hand sanitizer. By the end of their first week of sanitation production, Hotel Tango had shipped out 2,000 bottles, which were donated to Hoosier Veterans Assistance Foundation (HVAF) and Wheeler Mission.
“Once we started production of hand sanitizer, our idle employees from our tasting rooms shifted to the production line and we, fortunately, have not furloughed anyone thanks to this additional product line,” says Hotel Tango co-founder Travis Barnes.
Their spirits production has not slowed down, although their on-premise business fell off. Hotel Tango has seen an increase in their chain and grocery store distribution.
“Fast and furious” is how Hotel Tango COO/CFO Mike Leary describes the assembly line for bottling the hand sanitizer. The recipe for Hotel Tango’s hand sanitizer includes neutral grain (80%) alcohol, xanthan gum, peroxide and citronella as a bittering agent so that people can’t drink it.
The sanitizer production crew increases its efficiency almost daily. The team fills bottles, buckets and coolers with the sanitizer. At first, bottles were filled by dipping them into buckets of hand sanitizer. Subsequent processes have become more streamlined, including welding an industrial mixer to help produce higher quantities. Depending upon the size of bottles and containers to be filled, the volume of hand sanitizer produced can be as much as three hundred gallons in one day. Hotel Tango has not experienced any disruption to its supply chain for receiving bottles and labeling, which enables an uninterrupted production flow.
Orders are coming in from around the country and also from grocery store chains and the local office of the United States Postal Service. In addition to their sales of hand sanitizer, Hotel Tango is donating as much as they can to anyone who has requested products. Initial shipments were sent to a National Guard unit stationed in Saudi Arabia, the USS Indianapolis, the USS Indiana, local EMS, fire and police departments, as well as IU Health offices. Any police or fire department personnel who drive up to Hotel Tango are given free bottles of hand sanitizer.
For more information, visit hoteltangowhiskey.com.