‘Transformation Year’ at Candella Distillery

BOARDMAN – A “transformational year” for Candella Distillery led to the hiring of 12 part-time employees to help the company fulfill orders of hand sanitizer.

Candella, founded in 2013, makes vodka, bourbon, rum and wine products. With the pandemic, it transitioned to hand sanitizer and provided the product to hospitals, nursing homes, first responders and other essential businesses, CEO William Candella says.

“One of the challenges we faced was learning and following the FDA guidelines for registration, reporting, labeling and packaging that is somewhat different than what the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau requires,” he says.

Candella Distillery also had to figure out how to get its hand sanitizer to those who needed it in a way that was usable. Early on, the CEO says, it was “next to impossible” to get small bottles with spray tops. After reaching out to companies that had recently gone out of business, Candella found a hunting and fishing business whose owners had retired. The business still had a warehouse of bottles and caps.

“We moved quickly to purchase the entire inventory and hired part-time employees,” Candella says.

This year the distillery plans to keep hand sanitizer on its list of available products while also turning attention back toward its traditional products.

“The exposure the sanitizer production has provided our company will allow us to expand into a larger facility in a more high-traffic area,” Candella says. “We are planning to add a tasting room, small food options and offer tours.”