Sputnik lands in Devon market town to make hand sanitiser


Emergency metamorphosis!

Newton Abbot based Dartmoor Distillery has just installed a new and far larger still – nicknamed ‘Sputnik’ – in order to increase production of not only gin, but also high strength industrial alcohol; and is currently converting unsold real ale into desperately needed hand sanitiser!

Ethyl Ethel hard at work

John Lawton who owns Teignworthy Brewery and Dartmoor Distillery had hundreds of gallons of his award winning Gun Dog, Neap Tide and other ales going out of date due to the lockdown of pubs and other licensed premises; so decided to help out with the national emergency by distilling them into 805 Alcohol using his original still -, ‘Ethyl Ethel’ – but the process was taking days.  And as he already had the larger one stored in a nearby industrial unit, the decision was taken to install and commission it immediately.

John Lawton, comments: “We’ve been producing small batches of our Black Dog and the Navy Strength, Beast Gin for several years using Ethyl Ethel; which was manufactured by my family’s copper pipe business in the Midlands.  However, when I started trying to distil our unsold beer into high strength alcohol, it was taking several passes through the still over a period of up to five days.

Sputnik prepares for take off

“I bought the larger still two years ago from a company in London, which is when my sister christened it Sputnik due to the resemblance to the sixties Soviet satellites; but had never got round to actually installing it.  So now with some more help from the family copper pipe company, and a specialist local welder who came out of retirement to make all the connections, I will be able to produce large quantities of sanitiser far more quickly.”

John checked out the legality of converting his beer to industrial alcohol with UK Customs and expects to begin production using Sputnik within a few days.  And when the Covid-19 crisis is over he will also be able to keep his regular customers happy with more supplies of Black Dog and Beast gin.

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