Sustainable Sipping: How the Whisky Industry is Becoming More Eco-Friendly

Whisky splashing out of a glass

Last month, the beloved whisky brand Johnnie Walker announced that in 2021, their limited edition whisky release will be sold in a paper bottle, rather than glass in a bid to make packaging more sustainable.

Sustainability has become increasingly more important for both consumers and producers, with many looking for ways to live a more eco-friendly life. This is certainly starting to be reflected in the whisky industry, with several distilleries and whisky makers making changes that should have a positive impact on the planet.

We take a look at some of the ways in which the whisky industry is adapting.

Why Does the Whisky Industry Need Change?

Did you know that producing an average 750ml bottle of whisky will use the same amount of CO2 as driving in a car for seven miles?! And typically, the higher the ABV, the bigger the carbon footprint.

Each part of the whisky-making process puts a strain on the environment – from the impact of farming the grains to the energy needed to produce and package the whisky, as well as having to ship and fly the bottles to consumers around the world.

While many businesses in the food and drink industry are in a similar (or worse) position in terms of environmental impact, there are many ways in which producers can change for the better.

Here are some of the people making a change:

Johnnie Walker

As mentioned, Johnnie Walker is making big steps to become more sustainable with their new paper bottle. The new bottle is the first paper-based, plastic-free spirits bottle in the world. It will be made from sustainably-sourced wood pulp and is designed to be fully recyclable.

While the glass bottles they currently use are recyclable, their production contributes to a bigger carbon footprint than the paper model.

Diageo

Makers of Johnnie Walker, Diageo have also made steps to improve sustainability in their other brands, including Seagram 7 Crown whiskey, which they have announced will be bottled in recycled plastic bottles in the future.

Belgrove Distillery

Belgrove Distillery in Tasmania, Australia is a rye whisky distillery that also makes use of environmentally-friendly methods. The distillery has the world’s first (and only) biodiesel-powered still, which is fuelled by waste oil from a local chippy.

As well as this, owner Peter Bignell grows his own grain and feeds the leftover mash to his sheep. He is even considering using his sheep’s dung instead of peat in future batches!

All water is collected from the on-site dam, and the wastewater is used on the crops or recycled.

Mackmyra Swedish Distillery

Mackmyra Swedish Distillery has managed to create and run an eco-friendly distillery. They have made use of gravity to allow everything to fall naturally from one stage of the process to the next, rather than using power to move things along.

In addition, all of the heat used in the production of the whisky is used to heat the production premises too, so that no unnecessary energy is wasted. They use bio-pellets to heat the water used in the distillation of the whisky, and the wastewater is recycled for each batch.

Adnams Single Malt

Adnams, a brewery and distillery in Suffolk, runs entirely off renewable energy sources. This includes using solar panels and creating biogas from local food waste, which they use to power both the brewery and the lorries they use for transporting their products.

Adnams send zero waste to landfill and have halved their water usage by collecting rainwater. For their efforts, the distillery has won a number of awards, including the 2019 Footprint Award.

Scotch Whisky Association

The Scotch Whisky Association is a group of over 100 malt and grain distilleries based in Scotland. The Association previously signed an Industry Environmental Strategy agreement, which aims to reduce the amount of water and packaging used, as well as commit to using at least 20% renewable energy.

Draff

One of the ways to achieve using renewable energy in Scotch whisky-making is to adopt the use of ‘draff’. Draff is a byproduct of making whisky; the spent grain left over after distilling. The draff is used as a source of fuel in place of fossil fuels.

What do you think about these changes to the whisky industry? Why not share this post on social media to spread the word on the need for sustainability in our favourite distilleries

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