Where does the flavour come from?

Nicolas Möbius | 10. April 2024

What can we do for the environment? How can we ensure the sustainability, protection and reconstruction of our demanding Mother Nature? How can we as individuals make an appropriate contribution? Where is the best place to start?

Many companies and corporations are already dealing with these questions and the "go green" trend has also arrived in the whisky industry a few years ago. The water of life has preoccupied mankind since 1494, when whisky was first mentioned in a document. A lot has changed over the millennia, both in terms of sourcing and production. We have investigated a number of distilleries and producers and scrutinised the pioneers of environmental protection and sustainability in the whisky industry.

Table of content

Glengoyne

It is well known that Glengoyne celebrates Scottish cosiness. Anyone who knows the whisky specialists from near Glasgow knows that the slowest distillation in the entire industry takes place in their stills. At 5 litres instead of 20 litres per minute, and the preceding fermentation period of 56 hours is also somewhat longer than with other whisky producers (from 48 hours). However, it would be a mistake to assume that the distillery is just as slow when it comes to sustainability and environmental awareness because of its slow fermentation or distillation: Glengoyne is one of the most sustainable whisky producers in the world and has its own specially created biotope surrounding the distillery. Since 2011, Glengoyne has been an exclusive partner of the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT) and is helping to put the marshes and wetlands more at the centre of environmental policy. The water used for production does not come from the pure and clear river that flows past the distillery as a waterfall, but instead comes from a mountain spring. As the water from the river would not be sufficient for the production volume, it is only used to cool the distillation plant. Glengoyne is the first distillery to introduce its own wetland treatment plant, which treats 100% of the liquid waste from the distillery and returns it to nature in a purified state. The liquid used in production makes its way through twelve collection basins covered with dense reeds. The reeds slow down the flow of the pre-treated wastewater and remove anything that could affect the delicate balance of the local watercourse and the surrounding flora and fauna. The water purified by this process is then clean enough to be returned to the small stream, which makes its way into the River Blane Water and winds onwards to Loch Lomond. This produces less waste, requires less energy and preserves more of nature. The wetlands reduce the distillery's waste by 25%. Since the introduction of the ecological treatment plant and its twelve plots, over 14,500 plants of 20 different varieties have grown, providing a home and shelter for many insects and wildlife. Like the wild geese, the distillery also utilises wind power: wind-powered generators provide electricity and, since 2022, solar energy has also been used to generate 100% of the required energy itself.

Bottlings from the distillery

Glengoyne 10 Years
Glengoyne 10 Years
(108)
0,7 Liter40 % vol
42,90 EUR
Glengoyne 12 Years
Glengoyne 12 Years
(145)
0,7 Liter43 % vol
49,90 EUR
Glengoyne 18 Years
Glengoyne 18 Years
(81)
0,7 Liter43 % vol
158,50 EUR
Glengoyne 21 Years
Glengoyne 21 Years
(79)
0,7 Liter43 % vol
198,00 EUR

Fettercairn

Whyte & Mackay introduced the Fettercairn 200 Club in June 2022. The aim of the partnership launched by Fettercairn is to source 100% of the barley processed there from just 200 farmers within a 50-mile radius of the production site. This means that the entire raw material for Fettercairn single malt whisky is grown locally.

The short transport routes are ideal, as they not only strengthen local agriculture but also protect the environment. The initiative was launched together with the Bairds Malt malting company to ensure that the strategy, which is designed to last for the next 100 years, will enable the production of single origin single malt whisky for this and many generations to come.

One aim of the partnership is also to work more closely together, enabling more innovation and exchange between farmers and producers. Stewart Walker, the distillery manager, emphasises that the proximity of farmers and distillery strengthens the local community on the one hand and ensures the best possible quality of the barley on the other. The village of Fettercairn is located in an area that is also known as the "Garden of Scotland", as it has ideal growing conditions thanks to its fertile soil and ideal climate.

The Fettercairn 200 Club underpins the distillery's ambitious endeavours to produce whisky in a way that conserves resources. The Fettercairn Forrest, a project to reforest Scottish oak trees right next to the distillery, was introduced last year. Over 13,000 saplings were planted in the area around the whisky production site at the foot of the Cairngorm Mountains. This means that Scottish oak from sustainable cultivation on the 'Fasque Estate' in Scotland can be used for whisky production in the long term. In the distillery's recently reopened visitor centre, you can also enjoy a dram or two and a talk on Fettercairn's sustainability initiatives.

Bottlings from the distillery

Nc'nean

The young distillery Nc'nean, which was only founded in 2017, also sets a good example when it comes to conserving resources and protecting the environment. Incidentally, it also describes itself as Scotland's first organic whisky distillery. In the spirit of Neachneohain, a protector of nature according to legend, the distillery uses 100% organic barley and its own pure spring water.

Thanks to the Net Zero process, the distillery produces entirely with renewable energy. What is Net Zero? Net Zero means that the distillery generates fewer emissions in the production of its whisky than those taken out of the atmosphere during production, which the distillery has demonstrably had certified by Environmental Strategies Limited. The distillery also works according to the principle of waste avoidance. The remains of the barley are fed to the farm's cows and the bottles are also made from 100% recyclable materials. But that's not all: both copper stills are heated exclusively by a biomass boiler with wood chips from the local forest. All the trees felled for this purpose are replanted and the distillery thus contributes to the reforestation of the forest.

In addition, Nc'nean sources its electricity from Engie, a global provider of low-carbon energy committed to accelerating the transition to a carbon-neutral world. Together with all emissions associated with the supply chain, the total carbon footprint from the distillery for an entire year is less than a return flight from London to New York.

Bottlings from the distillery

Nc'nean Botanical Spirit
Nc'nean Botanical Spirit
(12)
0,5 Liter40 % vol
31,90 EUR
Nc'nean Organic with gift box
Nc'nean Organic with gift box
(16)
0,7 Liter46 % vol
59,90 EUR

GlenWyvis

The name GlenWyvis is an amalgamation of the lost distillery names Ben Wyvis and Glenskiach, both of which closed in 1926. On 16 April 2016, GlenWyvis launched its first crowdfunding campaign - its aim was to raise £1.5 million through donations, but £2.6 million was actually raised. Construction work began in January 2017 and was completed in November of the same year.

GlenWyvis , based in Dingwall in the Scottish Highlands, is the world's first 100% community-owned whisky distillery with over 3,000 shareholders from the Dingwall region and around the world. The distillery is also characterised by the fact that it runs entirely on green energy. It is located on farmland owned by John Mckenzie, the founder and managing director of GlenWvyis. The farm has previously invested in renewable energy systems, which are now shared between the distillery and the farm in exchange for spent grains. Spent grain is a by-product of the mashing process and is used to feed the cattle on the farm.

In addition, GlenWyvis has its own biomass boiler to provide steam to the stills. There are three different solar installations on the site. Two on the roof of the cattle shed and one on the ground. Together they have an output of 40kW. On the roof of the GlenWyvis office building, a 3kW solar thermal system provides hot water and a 12kW dam, installed on the farm in 2010, is located at the confluence of the Tulloch Spring and Dochcarty Burn (which is fed by the River Skiach).

The GlenWyvis office currently receives its heat from a 30kW block biomass boiler. Steam to heat the stills is provided by the distillery's own 500kW biomass boiler, which is fuelled by woodchips. An 11kW wind turbine is located on the farm and GlenWyvis ' company car is an EREV (Extended Range Electric Vehicle), which can be charged on site and travel 50 miles on a full charge.

The distillery is always looking for new energy alternatives to further improve its environmental credentials. All electricity from wind, water and solar is fed into the farm's system, where it is blended and metered before it reaches the distillery. Any surplus electricity generated is fed into the local grid.

Bottlings from the distillery

GlenWyvis /2022
GlenWyvis /2022
(9)
0,7 Liter46,5 % vol
59,90 EUR

Maker's Mark

Maker's Mark is also demonstrably committed to the environment and sustainability. Under the statement "Make Your Mark. Leave no trace", the distillery from Kentucky in the USA reuses or recycles all waste. For example, used bottles are pulverised and used as sand for hiking trails on the distillery site at Star Hill Farm. In addition, Maker's Mark has created the world's largest white oak research laboratory to preserve the source of all bourbon barrels for many generations of distillers to come, and in the traditional "dry house", the spent grain produced after mashing is dried and then passed on to more than just neighbouring farmers. After drying, the spent grains can be sold to three other states as cattle feed.

The distillery was the first large distillery in the world to achieve B-Corp certification, which recognises the company as particularly sustainable and climate-friendly. An absolute milestone in the history of bourbon whiskey companies, especially as strict conditions must be met for such a certificate and Maker's Mark had to fulfil high standards in terms of social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency.

The distillery is one of the leaders in the spirits industry, also in terms of its commitment to sustainability and environmental protection. It implements innovative programmes on the distillery's vast property to conserve the natural resources needed to produce Maker's Mark Bourbon and to improve the whisky and the process of making it. These initiatives include a distillery-wide zero landfill initiative; an on-site recycling programme, which is the first in Marion County and open to community members to participate in; the establishment of a natural watershed conservation area to protect the watershed surrounding the Star Hill Farm property; and the implementation of a solar array to power Maker's Mark 's sprawling warehouse complex.

In addition, Maker's Mark is committed to investing in the regional cultural sector, which has been a very welcome support for restaurateurs, freelance artists, musicians and event organisers in Kentucky, especially in the recent days of the global lockdown.

Bottlings from the distillery

Maker's Mark
Maker's Mark
(432)
0,7 Liter45 % vol
23,99 EUR
Maker's Mark
Maker's Mark
(432)
1 Liter45 % vol
33,90 EUR
Maker's Mark 46
Maker's Mark 46
(57)
0,7 Liter47 % vol
44,90 EUR

Brown Forman (Jack Daniel's)

The producer of renowned whisky brands (includingJack Daniel's, Old Forester, Woodford, Glendronach, Benriach and Glenglassaugh) as well as gin and vodka brands is pursuing a net-zero approach to greenhouse gas emissions from its global production sites and supply chains. An ambitious target to be achieved by 2045. Brown-Forman feels it has a duty to produce and work in a more sustainable, environmentally friendly and future-orientated way. By 2030, the company wants to reduce greenhouse gases by half by generating 100% of its electricity from renewable sources.

In 2021, for example, Jack Daniel's converted to wind and solar energy in Lynchburg. In 2020, the company was already listed in the US Environmental Protection Agency's top 100 largest green electricity consumers. Some of the trees used to make the barrels at Jack Daniel's are only felled after 60 years and then processed into barrels. Once a barrel has served its purpose, it is resold (depending on its condition), dismantled into its individual parts or completely recycled. For example, furniture is made from old barrels that are unsuitable for storing raw spirits. But it's not just the barrels that find their way to reuse, the glass bottles are also 100% recyclable and become new bottles for new whiskey.

100% of the leftover grain is sold on to local farms in Lynchburg, 60% of which is fed to animals. The cattle from Moore County are considered the healthiest and most robust animals in all of Tennessee.

At Brown-Forman, employees are also involved and actively contribute to environmental protection. Workstations are equipped with a "dumpster dive", a pipe that leads to a collection point on the level below. There, the waste material is sorted daily and the waste from the office and other waste from the distilleries is separated into plastic, paper, glass and wood. Once the process is complete, a decision is made as to what can be reused, what can be recycled and reused elsewhere and what actually needs to be disposed of. This also gave the employees food for thought. As a result, the workforce itself produced significantly less waste. For example, the morning caramel and vanilla frappé iced coffee from a disposable cup or plastic-wrapped sushi for lunch are increasingly being dispensed with.

Bottlings from the distillery

Jack Daniel's Old No. 7
Jack Daniel's Old No. 7
(169)
0,7 Liter40 % vol
22,99 EUR
Jack Daniel's Rye
Jack Daniel's Rye
(43)
0,7 Liter45 % vol
25,90 EUR
Jack Daniel's Gentleman Jack
Jack Daniel's Gentleman Jack
(178)
0,7 Liter40 % vol
26,90 EUR
Jack Daniel's Single Barrel
Jack Daniel's Single Barrel
(216)
0,7 Liter45 % vol
37,90 EUR

Also worth mentioning

Other distilleries are also increasingly focussing on environmental protection and sustainable production. In doing so, they are focussing on innovative ideas that are subsequently developed, precisely calculated and promoted. Simply flicking a switch is not easy for many distilleries, many of which have been carrying on their traditions and experience for centuries. They continue to delve deeper into the subject matter and initially create smaller projects in order to conserve their resources and do something good for the environment at the same time.

Bowmore, for example, uses the waste water from the production process to heat the local swimming pool, Raasay grows the barley for its whisky exclusively in collaboration with neighbouring farmers on the island and the Americans from Buffalo Trace have joined forces with the University of Kentucky to promote the long-term sustainability of white oaks. Glenmorangie reforests oyster reefs, operates its own biomass power plant to treat the water required for whisky production and even launched a bottling without any outer packaging in 2020. Bruichladdich is committed to the sustainable cultivation of barley and peat, while the world of Canaima gin is all about reforestation in the Amazon, taking into account the indigenous population living there.

There is much more to many distilleries in terms of nature conservation, sustainability or resource-conserving production that we have not (yet) mentioned, but that would go beyond the scope of this article. If you want to satisfy your curiosity further, we recommend that you visit the websites of your favourite whisky, because the distilleries and companies that really make an undeniable contribution to promoting the environment do not hide their commitment from the public. There is a lot to find and read about on their websites, but there is also a lot to discover about the commitment of whisky companies on the Whisky.de video platform, which regularly features tasting videos and distillery tours.

What does Whisky.de do for the environment?

As an online mail order company, we also contribute to environmental protection in various ways. We see energy saving and environmental protection as our duty, which is why we are constantly working to improve ourselves further. We set ourselves a high goal here: 100% CO2 neutrality.

It is generally known that the operation of web servers (for the provision of online shops, for example) is not normally possible without CO2 emissions. We therefore work with a provider who provides us with a CO2-neutral internet server that is powered 100% by renewable energy. The entire power supply at Whisky.de also comes from renewable sources.

To offset our mail order business and conserve resources, we use Deutsche Post's GOGREEN programme (at no extra cost to you, our customers). The popular Whisky.de catalogue is made exclusively from recycled materials and renewable trees.

Find out all the details about our measures in our environmental protection section.

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Nicolas Möbius has been working at Whisky.de since 2022. After over 15 years of professional experience in e-commerce, sales and content management, he now supports the meeting place of fine minds through intensive research into new bottlings and creates product descriptions for the entire range from the collected facts.

Through his acquired whiskey knowledge, his passion for the whiskey, rum and gin industry and his high affinity for writing with the corresponding (wide) view of the big picture (from grain to bottle, so to speak), he has joined Whisky.de established.

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