The whisky industry has always considered conservation as an objective, if not a priority. Take the Scots, for example. They have been inherently reusing barrels discarded by the bourbon industry to mature their very own product. Back in 2009, the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) initiated an Industrial Environmental Strategy for all its members comprising seven grain and 101 malt distilleries. Besides conservation commitments on packaging and water usage, the industry envisioned 20% renewable energy usage by 2020 and 80% by 2050.
It’s evident that from the very start, the Scots have been leading by example. And, thankfully, the distillers from all across the world have also started to follow suit. While there are many that are making efforts to replace conventional fossil fuels, there are some who are focusing on using organic grains. Either way, the environment stands at a vantage point and that’s definitely something to acknowledge.
The following are some of the most notable conservation attempts by top distillers that are bound to make an impact going forward.
Diageo is one among the very few players which were quick to jump onto the conservation bandwagon. The company’s Roseisle Distillery, established in 2013, was the first new major distillation unit that was specifically built to ensure sustainability. This state-of-the-art bio-energy plant redefined whisky making by using byproducts of the distillation process as a source of generating renewable energy. The challenge was to enhance production, while curbing the carbon footprint at the same time. And, Diageo’s Roseisle Distillery passed the test with flying colors – it went on to save 10,000 tons of C02 every year by relying on renewable energy resources.
Diageo is on the track to achieve no waste to landfill and reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by a staggering 50% by 2020. Besides Roseisle, the company’s Tennessee- based George Dickel Distillery is already managing all its waste-water onsite. And, its Valleyfield Distillery in Quebec is no longer sending any waste to the landfill!
The Scotland-based Deanston Distillery has taken an entirely different approach to conservation. It has developed its own onsite hydroelectric system, instead of depending on conventional municipal power sources. The hydroelectric power grid derives all its power from the river Teith which flows past the distillery. The water is not only used for the generation of power but also for the distillation process. The plant utilizes only 25% of the total power generated for operations and the rest is sold to the national power grid.
Before being revamped into a distillery, the Deanston property used to be a textile mill and it had the largest waterwheel during the 1830’s. Now, this shares an amazing resonance to the modern conservation attempts made by the distillery.
Bainbridge Organic Distillers
When it comes to going organic, the Bainbridge Organic Distillers are undeniably the pioneers. This distillery is using 100% organically grown grains of Washington to produce an entire line of products that comprises whiskies, gins and vodkas. Usage of sustainably and organically grown products essentially prevents the discharge of hazardous chemicals and synthetic fertilizers into the environment. These harmful compounds often wind up in groundwater and river water, intoxicating the water sources and endangering life forms, whether people or wildlife.
The distillery claims that whisky made from organic grain tastes much better than the others in the league. Quite possibly true, because it recently won the ‘Craft Whiskey of the Year’ award from Whiskey Advocate for their exclusive Yama Mizunara Cask Single Grain Whisky!
Considering Scotland’s strategy to embrace 100% renewable energy sources by 2020 and a host of other initiatives undertaken by distillers to promote environmental sustainability, it’s perhaps safe to say that the whisky industry has its conservation goals charted out, going forward. However, to realize widespread environmental awareness on a global level, the industry needs more active support from other key players.