It’s World Earth Day on 22nd April, so to celebrate we thought we’d have a look into the Scotch whisky industry and its push for more sustainable practices to be put in place and help give back to this beautiful planet. We will look at the ambitious plans of the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) as well as just a few distilleries who are already known for their ‘eco-friendly’ ways.
The Scotch Whisky Industry Sustainability Strategy
In 2021, the SWA launched their vision for the future of our industry, a future that will achieve Net Zero emissions in all operations by 2040. An ambitious but necessary goal, Scotch whisky will remain at the heart of the vision, which will see the protection of Scotland’s environments, whilst continuing to adapt and grow as a modern industry.
So what will the 2040 whisky industry look like? Well here are a few examples:
- The industry will no longer rely on fossil fuels but use only renewable sources of energy
- Many distilleries will be completely self-sufficient in terms of energy. Some will be biorefineries using their by-products to help create raw materials for other sectors.
- Packaging will be fully recyclable and all materials will be sustainably sourced.
These are just some of the areas that the industry are trying to make as sustainable as possible. To find out more about the strategy and what the world of whisky is anticipated to look like by 2040, head to the Scotch Whisky Association’s website: https://www.scotch-whisky.org.uk/insights/sustainability/
Water of Life
Scotch whisky is created with three main ingredients: barley, yeast and of course water. Water is so vital to whisky, that’s its own Gaelic name of ‘uisge bheatha’ means the water of life.
The Scotch Whisky Association have also created targets to reduce water use across the whole of the industry. With water being at the core of whisky creation, the industry is looking at using H2O as effectively and efficiently as possible – with all distilleries focusing at staying within a responsible usage range by 2025.
Find out more about responsible water use here: https://www.scotch-whisky.org.uk/insights/sustainability/responsible-water-use/
What are distilleries already doing?
When we look at distilleries who are using water responsibly, Glengoyne is a great distillery to focus on. The distillery uses wetlands to treat their wastewater naturally, which ensures they save money and improve their local environment at the same time – it’s a win-win!
During the distillation process of whisky, a product is produced called ‘spent lees’ – this is the liquid that is no longer needed after the distillation. This liquid is usually sent to an industrial plant, where it is treated.
This is where Glengoyne distilleries wetland facility comes in. Instead of shipping the liquid off, it makes its way through a number of specially created wetlands, where reedbeds filter and clean the liquid and it then flows straight back into the local burn!
A clean and natural way to dispose of their waste.
The Glenmorangie Distillery can be found on the shores of the Dornoch Firth, in the far north of Scotland. The beautiful, natural environments surrounding the distillery are also home to some amazing wildlife. The distillery is working alongside Herriot Watt University and MCS in order to bring back the native oyster to the Dornoch Firth, through a fantastic reef enhancement project!
This wee beauty is the ‘first’ community-owned distillery, which is also 100% powered by green energy! Located up in Dingwall at the very top of Scotland, the distillery is located on a farm and uses the agriculture to enable its sustainability. They use one of the by-products of their whisky making – draff – to feed the farm’s cows!
This distillery is one of the nine operating distilleries to be found on the Isle of Islay, off the west coast of Scotland. The distillery is clever about their use of heat when it comes to their whisky production. At the beginning of the process, the malt is gently dried for 42 hours, with temperatures rising to 60°C – this hot air is then cleverly recycled using their waste heat recovery system – this then provides the energy to heat the local swimming pool!
This Highland Scotch whisky distillery is located near Lochaber on the Ardnamurchan Estate. The facility is an interesting one as it is entirely reliant on renewable energy. The energy that is needed to run the distillery is sourced wholly from local suppliers. For instance, the distillery’s energy comes from a hydro-electricity generator in the river, and their heat is sourced and generated through a biomass boiler.
That’s just a few sustainable stories from the world of Scotch whisky – if you know any more please do let us know in the comments below or contact us through our website or social media channels. We’d love to hear as many green stories as we can!