DESPITE a tough climate for small businesses, two boutique gin firms have joined forces to help in the fight against coronavirus.

Inspirited and McLean’s Gin launched a fundraising drive to allow them to use their distilleries to create hand sanitiser.

And the generous firms have donated hundreds of bottles of the vital supplies to care homes, hospices and vulnerable members of the community.

As the coronavirus pandemic has spread, hand sanitiser has become increasingly hard to get hold of.

The venture is close to home for McLean Gin’s Colin McLean, whose wife is a doctor, and Lawrence Nicholson, Director of Inspirited, whose partner is a nurse.

Lawrence said: “The work the frontline people are putting in to saves lives means they really deserve the respect to have the vital tools to do their every day jobs.

“It’s not right that they don’t have the correct PPE so this is a time to pull together.

“We don’t make any money from making the hand sanitiser, and we are using our own time and our own labour, but when this all blows over will be the time to think about making gin again.”

The World Health Organisation released instructions for making a hand sanitiser made of ethanol, hydrogen peroxide and glycerol.

Ethanol is a type of alcohol that can be denatured to make it unsuitable to drink - but ideal for hand sanitiser.

Lawrence said: “When we first heard of the shortage of hand sanitiser we wrote to our MP and MSPs about being allowed to denature alcohol so we could help out in making some.

“Around the same time Colin posted online saying he was looking to get involved too and had set up a JustGiving page to raise £2000.

The cash covered the costs of glycerine, hydrogen and bottles and, with the money raised, the two gin firms were able to make 420 750ml bottles of hand sanitiser to go to hospitals, GP surgeries, chemists, community care workers, charities and police stations, among others.

Colin is now having to step back from the project but Inspirited has further plans.

We told in the Glasgow Times in August 2018 how Colin and his now-wife Jess had set up McLean’s Gin with a distillery in a cupboard in their Cathcart tenement flat.

Colin said: “We are a small team and my wife and I have twin babies at home so it was becoming a bit overwhelming so we had to make that call.

“But the response has been great and when we were doing the drop offs people’s faces made it all worthwhile - they were so relieved to have it.

“We’ve been really happy to be able to do something positive among all of this.”

Inspirited has now pledged to supply hand sanitiser to MOD bases in Faslane, Plymouth and London.

But the order is not an easy one to fill.

Lawrence said: “The ingredients needed to make the hand sanitiser are as much like gold dust as the hand sanitiser itself.”

To get their hands on the necessary components, Lawrence managed to source some on Friday at 1pm - but it had to be collected from Bury, in England, by 4.30pm.

A friend is also driving down to Liverpool to collect more chemicals - but Lawrence said the effort is absolutely worth it to be able to help during the crisis.

Inspirited was set up just last year and formally launched in October making bespoke gin blends with botanical chosen by customers.