Making Whisky greener

The Evolution of Eco-friendly Whisky

Whisky production has a huge impact on the environment, but now a green energy revolution could be changing all of that.

Most Scotch whisky distillers rely on heavy fuel oil to generate heat for distilling processes. Recently however, a few have installed biomass boilers to replace their heavy fuel burners and in May this year, the Green Investment Bank announced £5 million of funding for the installation of biomass boilers in the industry.

The boilers will be used to produce steam, necessary for several parts of the whisky production process; by having one of these installed, it means that distillers will now be burning their spent grain together with woodchips and other types of biomass thus reducing their energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions.

The production of Scotch whisky has evolved for over 500 years, generating £4 billion a year in exports, a quarter of all Britain’s food and drink exports, and demand continues to grow, particularly in emerging markets. It is an industry steeped in tradition with age-old methods of production, but the drive for efficiency and reduction in carbon footprint is changing this industry forever with investments in product recovery systems to maximise yield and renewable energy initiatives just 2 ways in which distillers are modernising their production methods.

Julie Hesketh-Laird, Director of Operations and Technical Affairs at the Scottish Whisky Association, has stated that there are around 20 new Scotch whisky distillery projects at the moment and although some of them are small, around half are in the planning stage and all are interested in biomass and its capabilities.