Only nine bottles were sold, but they still had to be recalled.

By Mike Pomranz
June 09, 2020
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As the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded, many distilleries around the globe decided to do their part by shifting from producing alcohol for consumption to producing alcohol for hand sanitizer. But as coronavirus safety measures slowly begin to ease, it turns out an Australian distillery may have switched back to the consumption side of things too quickly, accidentally labeling some bottles of hand sanitizer as gin and selling them to the public.

Yesterday, the Apollo Bay Distillery in Victoria issued a product safety recall for nine bottles of its SS Casino Gin sold over the weekend at the nearby Great Ocean Road Brewhouse. “The product is labelled as gin, however it is not gin,” the recall states in the most straightforward way possible. Of course, the next question becomes, well, if it’s not gin, what is it? The answer: 1.45 percent glycerol and 0.125 percent hydrogen peroxide—two ingredients that, along with an ethanol base, fit the World Health Organization’s approved formulation for hand sanitizer.

Ali Majdfar/Getty Images

“The bottles were incorrectly labelled and had no seal,” a result of human error, a spokesperson for the distillery told Australia’s ABC News. “We understand they are not toxic.” Still, consumption of hand sanitizer is not recommended—even when mixed with tonic—and the spokesperson also reportedly said that one person claimed to have consumed the sanitizer and felt nauseous, but was otherwise alright.

On the bright side, Apollo Bay also told the news site that, as of today, six of the nine bottles had been accounted for, and those who had inadvertently ended up with hand sanitizer received either a replacement bottle or a refund. “As a small business we're hugely sorry this has occurred,” the brand told one person who commented on their Facebook post. “It's not good and we apologise for this mistake,” they responded to another.

The recall also stated that consuming the sanitizer could result in “side effects including nausea, headaches, dizziness, bloating, vomiting, thirst, and diarrhea”—which, actually, doesn’t sound that different from how you might feel the next day after drinking too much gin.