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Just Rum distillery pivots production to include hand sanitizer amid COVID-19 concerns

PMG PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER KEIZUR  - John HasBrouck has been handing out hand sanitizer he makes at the Just Rum distillery at the Gresham Farmers Market since its opening day. In 2018, John HasBrouck moved to Sandy for the small-town feel and to start his own distillery. Now, he's using his rural distillery to do his own small part in keeping the community safe during the COVID-19 crisis.

In April, HasBrouck was asked by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, which oversees alcohol and tobacco production to pivot his manufacturing to include hand sanitizer. Though his company has operated for a few years under the simple name, Just Rum, HasBrouck accepted.

"We decided it was a good idea to do that and help the community," HasBrouck said. He added that it has really just given new purpose to the byproduct of his rum production. "We waste a lot of alcohol in production. This just gave us a way to use something we'd otherwise waste."

PMG PHOTO: BRITTANY ALLEN  - Just Rum sells three flavors of rum, including Simple White, Oregon Oak Rested and a Maple Wood Rested.Just Rum sells three flavors of rum, including Simple White, Oregon Oak Rested and a Maple Wood Rested. HasBrouck mainly sells them out of the distillery on Gunderson Road and through liquor stores in Oregon and Washington currently, as well as at area farmers markets, where he's been handing out his hand sanitizer free of charge.

Business, HasBrouck said, did flatline a bit when the crisis started.

"We were really on an upward trajectory before," he said. "It's kind of been a flat line since the shutdown order. It's cool though because we've developed a following and people still purchase through liquor stores at a similar volume."

PMG PHOTO: BRITTANY ALLEN  - Just Rum has been on the market since 2019.Besides the charitable aspect of the company, HasBrouck said his distillery has attracted people because they just make "really flavorful rum."

"People think of rum as a mixing alcohol, not for sipping, but ours is different," he explained.

HasBrouck began distilling years ago after inheriting a pot still from his great uncle.

"When I grew up, if someone left you something, you kept it," HasBrouck explained.

"The stuff (my uncle) made was terrible," HasBrouck added, but that only motivated him to research and learn to make good tasting alcohol himself.

While he can't offer tastings at the markets this year, HasBrouck and his team are opening up a tasting room at the Gunderson Road distillery by appointment.

"There are lot of people in Sandy who don't even know we're here yet," HasBrouck said.

Just Rum's following is growing, however, from people seeing the team at farmers markets and likely benefitting from their hand sanitizer.

"Hand sanitizer is not a marketplace I want to be in," HasBrouck explained. "But it's something we can do (to help people)."

PMG PHOTO: BRITTANY ALLEN  - Just Rum has four partners at the helm: John HasBrouck, James Roberts, Shelbey Blasdel and Greg Madsen. Additional info:

'Just Rum' not just in Sandy

To find out more about Just Rum or where to purchase their products, visit the website at justrum.com.

Just Rum

34905 S.E. Gunderson Road, Sandy

808-443-6671

The tasting room is open by appointment only. Call for a time.


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