OYSTER RIVER -- A distillery best known for its award winning whisky is now fulfilling a new thirst: for hand sanitizer.

Shelter Point Distillery owner Patrick Evans says his company retooled its equipment and is now making hand sanitizer in order to make up for a serious shortage.

"We're actually mass-producing large volumes of sanitizer, you don't really realize how critical it is until you start talking to everyone on the front lines and it's a serious matter" Evans says.

The company estimates it will make approximately 25,000 litres of sanitizer next week. Supplies this week have been delivered to fire departments, police detachments and health clinics.

Evans says representatives with the provincial government fast-tracked the distillery's application to make the product, adding that the facility will be following World Health Organization guidelines.

Twenty-litre jugs of the product have distributed along with much larger containers, which are being shipped to places such as Vancouver General Hospital.

Evans also says, as a twist, bottles which were initially supposed to be holding vodka are now being filled with sanitizer.

Distillery manager Jacob Wiebe says staff are focused on doing their best to support first responders.

"Whatever we can do to help, really it's for (people) on the front lines that are doing all the work and if we can supplement that in any way, shape or form, we're going to do anything we can," Wiebe says.

Staff are hoping once the COVID-19 crisis is behind us, customers will celebrate with whiskey that they will happily start making once again.