Reducing water usage, supporting barley growth and using renewable forms of energy are just some of the measures Irish whiskey distilleries are introducing to promote sustainability across the industry.
The US is the largest customer for Irish whiskey, responsible for 55% of whiskey exports.
Global Irish whiskey exports were worth €855 million last year, up 25% compared to 2020, as the growing trend of Premiumisation and the position of Irish whiskey in this segment led to the value of Irish whiskey exports increasing at a stronger pace than volumes.
The IWA’s campaign highlights how Irish whiskey distilleries and bottlers lead the way in promoting sustainability.
Each week the campaign focuses on a different company and one of its key sustainability achievements.
The first seven companies to be profiled in January and February are:
- Rademon Estate Distillery –All power used by Rademon is sustainably supplied by its on-site wind and hydro turbines. Located in County Down, it’s the home of Shortcross Irish whiskey and gin.
- Irish Distillers – Its unique and accredited ‘Sustainable Green Spring Barley Scheme’ aims to support the long-term viability of the Spring Barley sector in Ireland by incentivising farmers to continually improve their sustainable practice. Irish Distillers is the largest producer of Irish whiskey with a distillery in Midleton, County Cork, a bottling facility at Fox and Geese in Dublin 22 and brands including Jameson, Powers and Redbreast.
- Teeling –Teeling Small Batch is sold in bottles made using 75% recycled glass. Teeling Distillery is based in Dublin’s Liberties and recently won the award for Most Sustainable Irish Whiskey Distillery at the Icons of Whiskey Awards.
- Terra Spirits & Liqueurs – It has achieved a 30% net energy reduction since 2018 through switching to biogas and solar PV. Terra is located in Baileborough, County Cavan and provides bottling services to a range of Irish whiskey and cream liqueur brands. Terra was the winner of the Sustainability Authority of Ireland 2020 Award for Small & Medium Enterprises.
- Slane Distillery –Located on the historic Slane Castle estate adjoining the river Boyne in County Meath, Slane Distillery is committed to water stewardship. The distillery collects rainwater for treatment and use in processing and has restored a section of Harlinstown Stream including construction of a salmon ladder.
- Boann Distillery –Located in County Meath, close to Drogheda, Boann Distillery planted 2,000 Oak trees in recent months at Swainstown Estate in County Meath as part of its barrel sustainability programme. Boann is the home of the Whistler Irish whiskey.
- Great Northern Distillery –Reducing its Biological Oxygen Demand discharge to the wastewater system by 80% per LPA since 2016, Great Northern Distillery is located in Dundalk, County Louth and is the largest contract producer of Irish whiskey.
“Building on centuries of heritage, the Irish whiskey industry is now looking to the future and leading the way when it comes to sustainability,” commented IWA Chairman John Quinn, Global Brand Ambassador for Tullamore DEW, “Our new campaign will paint a vibrant picture of Ireland as home to some of the world’s most sustainable distilleries.
“Irish whiskey producers are employing a range of innovative and cutting-edge technologies to reduce energy usage, reduce water use and reduce waste while increasing the use of renewable energy, increasing the use of Irish barley and Malt and supporting biodiversity.
“It’s not just about the environment. As the number of Irish whiskey distilleries has grown from four to 40 over the past decade, new distilleries have supported urban regeneration and rural development, reusing vacant buildings and sites, employing and buying locally and attracting visitors to communities across the island of Ireland.”
The IWA’s campaign will continue with more companies to be profiled in March, April and May.
In addition to this new campaign, the IWA is establishing a series of Expert Groups who’ll work to develop a new sustainability strategy for the Irish whiskey industry built around a series of industry-level targets aligned with Sustainable Development Goals and with the targets set-out in Irish and Northern Irish Climate Action Plans.