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Recognizing good works

Western Son gets thanks for making hand cleanser

When the leaders at Western Son Distillery saw a gap in hand sanitizer availability, they rekeyed their production line to help solve the problem.

The production center made 75,000 bottles of the liquid over the course of two morning shifts.

“Our first responders and medical professionals are out there on the frontlines,” Western Son Chief Operating Officer Carlos Guillem said. “We knew they needed that.”

The company has received messages of thanks from several of the recepients of the cleanser.

Each bottle of hand cleanser is 50 milliliters and is clearly marked that it is not for consumption.

One of the area departments to benefit from the hand cleanser batch was the Pilot Point Fire Department.

“We were very appreciative of it because, like everybody else, we’re having issues buying it from our normal suppliers,” Assistant Fire Chief Bryan Cox said.

The bottles are little and fit into small spaces.

“We took the bottles that they gave, and we dropped them in all the door pockets of all the apparatus so it’s easy for the guys, if they go out and do something they can just hit their hands with it before they get back in the rig,” Cox said.

Pelzel Hometown Pharmacy also made hand sanitizer and gave it to the department as the pandemic started affecting the area.

“It’s always good to see local businesses that are able to kind of shift gears and help locally,” Cox said. “And some businesses either don’t have the capacity to help in what’s needed or don’t have the manpower or the finances to do that.

“And, Western Son’s one of those, luckily, that can fill a void of a vital product that’s needed.”

State Rep. Jared Patterson and his district director Melanie Marx took a tour of the original Pilot Point campus of the distillery on May 1, which ended with Patterson presenting a certificate of recognition of what the business produced to Guillem and Erin King, the director of brand marketing.

“It was important because of the work that they’ve done in the face of this pandemic in Texas,” Patterson said. “And they are one of the companies that have adjusted their production to meet the needs of first responders on the front lines of the pandemic in terms of hand sanitizer for them.”

His brother is a firefighter, he said, and he cares about helping first responders.

“Anybody that’s going to support our first responders, I’m going to support them,” Patterson said.

He also wanted to recognize the business because he values having businesses that employ local residents throughout the district he serves, he said.

Vinny Messina, the distiller at Western Son, talked Patterson and Marx through the process of crafting the liquor.

He talked about the hearts, heads and tails produced during the distillation.

Hearts become vodka. Heads and tails become alcohol byproducts.

“That’s what we made the sanitizer out of,” King said.

It was made of “a rough mixture” of the distilled “ethanol and what we call foreshots,” Messina said, which is from the low boiling point alcohols.

“We put a stop on our production that we had going, and we stepped up and got it done,” Guillem said.

The company that prints the Western Son labels, WindWalker, cranked out the labels for the hand sanitizer, too.

“We contacted them and said, ‘Hey, we need labels quick.’ They shut down their presses … and overnighted them to us.”

The hand sanitizer was packaged in the same bottles that Western Son generally uses.

“It was a collaborative effort, not just with us but also with our suppliers,” Guillem said.

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