Whisky giant embarks on £3 million project to restore Scottish peatlands

The drinks giant behind Teacher’s, Laphroaig and Bowmore whiskies has unveiled a £3 million investment to help restore large swathes of Scotland’s peatlands.

Beam Suntory and its parent company Suntory Holdings said its initiative involved a large-scale series of peatland restoration and conservation and watershed conservation projects.

The project - one of the largest of its kind to date - is due to start near the Ardmore distillery next month, as well as targeting watershed conservation projects at various locations throughout the country.

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The companies plan to invest about £3m in the restoration and conservation of 1,300 hectares of peatlands by 2030, enough to produce the same amount of peat that Beam Suntory harvests every year in making its Scotch whiskies on an ongoing basis.

Initial works to restore and conserve peatland near the Ardmore distillery, which was established in 1898 by Adam Teacher, are due to commence in November.

Beam Suntory is a US-headquartered subsidiary of Japan’s Suntory Holdings. The firm employs more than 360 people in Scotland, the large majority of whom are involved in the production of its Scotch whiskies, including Glen Garioch, Ardmore, Auchentoshan, Laphroaig, Bowmore and Teacher’s.

David Hunter, chief supply chain officer at Beam Suntory, said: “As part of our ‘Proof Positive’ sustainability strategy, we believe it’s our responsibility to make a positive impact on the environment in which we operate, which is why we are committing to restoring and conserving as much peat as we harvest by 2030, as well as conserving crucial watersheds across Scotland.

“By protecting peatlands and preserving local watersheds, we will also help to enhance and ensure the production of the highest quality whisky in Scotland for future generations.”

Professor Colin Campbell, chief executive of the James Hutton Institute, said: “We are pleased to be working alongside Suntory, Beam Suntory and Forestry and Land Scotland on this vital initiative to help restore and protect one of Scotland’s most iconic habitats.

“Healthy peatlands help build resilience into our water supplies and restoring them allows nature to recover from the impact of climate change and promotes long-term carbon sequestration.

“These natural assets are essential for sustaining one of Scotland’s most important industries, and it is truly a pleasure to work with partners who have such a well-developed philosophy around the protection of our natural environment.”

Simon Hodgson, Forestry and Land Scotland chief executive, added: “We are pleased to be working with Suntory, Beam Suntory and the James Hutton Institute on such a forward-looking conservation programme.

“It is a great example of how business and land management organisations can work together and is a welcome addition to our growing suite of corporate partnerships.”

Initial works to restore and conserve peatland near the Ardmore distillery, which was established in 1898 by Adam Teacher, are due to commence in November.

In the first phase, nearly 15 hectares of peatland in the Ardmore Knockandy Hill north side slope will be restored, with more to follow in 2022. Restoration will also potentially include Malsach Burn Valley as early as next year.

This initial restoration project at Ardmore will be undertaken in partnership with the James Hutton Institute, which is assisting with the research, planning, and execution of the restoration, and Forestry and Land Scotland, which owns the land.

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