While fashion, beauty and food are all hot sustainability topics, when was the last time you thought about the environmental impacts of cocktail hour?
Like most other industries that make and sell products, the spirits industry contributes to the climate crisis through packaging, emissions from transport, and the sourcing of ingredients from crops.
The industry is unique, however, because of the distillation process, which produces considerable emissions and is water intensive. There is also the problem of waste from spent grains.
So when you hear about a spirits brand repurposing waste products, reducing its energy consumption and responsibly sourcing its ingredients, sit (or sip!) up and pay attention.
These three brands are renowned for their impressive eco-conscious practices and they’re a good drop, putting you in good stead among your more discerning drinking buddies if you roll them out next cocktail hour.
Diplomático is an independent, family-owned brand with a distillery at the foot of the Andes Mountains in Venezuela, where it’s said that the purest of waters run to make the very best rum. It’s a tightly run operation, with the company controlling the end-to-end production process.
It’s also one of the only liquor companies globally to have earned the ISO 14001 certification, a prestigious recognition for companies delivering on their environmental responsibility.
Diplomático has reduced its water consumption by up to 50 percent over the past six years. It has established a comprehensive liquid waste management process that transforms vinasse into fertilizer for more than 1,000 hectares of sugar cane, and for distribution among more than 30 families in the region to support their crops.
The company has also created its own energy cogeneration systems that supply an average of 80 percent of its energy throughout the year. These systems allow for a greater reduction of CO2 gases compared to conventional systems, emitting less pollution per unit of energy.
The company has a generous spirit, having completed environmental training workshops for employees and local communities, beach cleaning initiatives, and reforestation programs that have planted nearly 16,000 trees of native species.
The Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva rum is distilled from molassis in copper pot stills and then aged in small oak casks for on average 12 years before being bottled. It has a beautiful vanilla and mildly smoky finish that you honestly wouldn’t want to hide in a cocktail – but go right ahead if a side car is calling you.
A UK favourite now available in Australia, Silent Pool Gin, is founded on the stunning banks of the magical Silent Pool against the rolling hills of Surrey Hills. Each Silent Pool Gin bottle contains 24 complex botanicals and is made at the brand’s truly eco-friendly distillery.
The distillery has worked hard to reduce its carbon footprint and waste.
Distillery nerds, pay attention: The stills used for Silent Pool Gin are heritage, originally made in the 1870s. It’s fired by well-seasoned local hardwood, which keeps fuel miles to a minimum. The larger 1800 litre still has a boiler that is fired by hydrogenated vegetable oil made by refining 100 percent renewable inedible waste or residue food stock, in place of red diesel. This renewable fuel reduces greenhouse gas emissions by up to 90 percent.
The still house has a closed loop cooling system, which takes advantage of the ambient air temperature and therefore uses a small amount of power. It consumes less water than conventional cooling systems and allows the team to use excess heat from the distillation process to heat the distillery building during the winter months. The distillery also has solar panels on the south-facing roof to produce electricity, which is fed into the national grid.
All organic waste from production is transported to an anaerobic digester where it is used to create methane and, in turn, electricity. The remaining waste is made into fertiliser.
As you make a round of G&Ts, you might want to make it known that all the botanicals used in Silent Pool Gin are ethically and locally sourced, and that the company contributes financially to the upkeep of the Silent Pool such as funding the eradication of non-native weeds. Silent Pool Gin also contains honey sourced from a neighbouring beekeeper.
If that doesn’t impress anyone, I don’t know what will.
We love slow, and Glengoyne proudly claims to be the slowest whisky distiller in Scotland. Unhurried since 1833, the range has had a modern makeover with 100 per cent recyclable packaging.
All of the new packaging materials have been sourced locally, close to the distillery to reduce carbon footprint (apart from corks and capsules, which come from Europe). The 10, 12, Legacy Series and Cask Strength packaging is 100 percent recyclable.
Glengoyne has won many awards since introducing the new packaging and has been recognised as an industry leader for its achievements in sustainability, including that as the first whisky producer to introduce a 100 % recyclable and reusable packaging solution.
Each beautifully carved wooden gift box containing Glengoyne 25 and 30 Year-Old Whiskies has been carefully made to facilitate second usage. All plastic, metal and magnets have been removed and each box features personalisable plaques, peelable labels and removable inners to allow it to be re-used and re-purposed.
Fun fact: Glengoyne was the first Scottish distillery to adopt a wetlands facility for its liquid waste (home to 14,500 plants and abundant wildlife including two beehives) and it has been powered by renewable wind energy since 2019, earning it the reputation of Scotland’s greenest distillery.
Glengoyne’s custom-made oak casks are the longest to prepare in the industry, each prepared for six years before the whisky is transferred to them, giving Glengoyne its renowned fruity, complex flavour. Glengoyne Whisky is unpeated and uses air-dried barley instead, producing delicious sweet and fruity notes, delivering an elegant and subtle flavour and a long smooth finish. It could be sacrilege if we dare suggest a cocktail for this one, we love it over a big cube of ice.