Diageo distilleries recognised for sustainability changes

Four of the country’s best-known Scotch whiskies have received top awards for their measures to help protect the environment.

Oban Distillery. Picture: TSPL

Lagavulin, Blair Athol, Oban and Clynelish distilleries have all scooped prestigious gold certification from the Green Tourism accreditation body for their sustainable practices.

The whisky brands join sister distilleries Glenkinchie and Royal Lochnagar, which are all owned by drinks giant Diageo, in achieving gold accreditation.

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The six distilleries are among only eight in Scotland to have been awarded the gold standard.

The other two are Deanston and Nc’nean.

“To receive the Gold Green Tourism award for not just one but six of our Scottish whisky brand homes and distilleries in just under six months is an incredible achievement,” said Barbara Smith, managing director of Diageo’s Scotland Brand Homes.

“These awards are credit to the people at our distilleries and all the work they’ve done to build the environmental sustainability of our business.

“This is just the start of our journey and we will be going for gold accreditations at our other distillery brand homes and will continue to raise the bar for sustainable whisky tourism.”

Measures

Zero waste to landfill, biodiversity enhancement, energy-efficiency, local sourcing, community engagement and plastic reduction were among the eco-friendly measures recognised by assessors across the whisky operations.

Oban Distillery has been key to helping raise the standards for sustainable practice across the drinks industry.

It switched to biofuels in 2018, reducing its carbon footprint by 98 per cent, and last year introduced a new scheme that has cut water use by around 80,000 litres a week.

The distillery is also working with Diageo stablemate Johnnie Walker to plant 189,000 trees to restore woodland and promote wildlife diversity in Argyll.

Lagavulin, based on Islay – famous for its smoky, peaty whiskies – is working with conservationists to help restore and preserve 700 acres of peat bog on the island.

Meanwhile Clynelish Distillery, in Brora, was recognised for efforts to encourage sustainable travel through installation of cycle racks and planned electric vehicle charging points.

Perthshire’s Blair Athol distillery was recognised for its dedication to recycling across the business, including reusing pot ale syrup for animal feed and for turning old pallets and discarded materials into homes for wildlife.

Andrea Nicholas, chief executive at Green Tourism, said: “The investment and support from Diageo in incorporating green technology and operations has been impressive and one of the best examples of corporate commitment that we have ever seen.

“This, along with the dedication, hard work and creativity of the on-site teams at all of these distilleries, has been crucial to achieving their well-deserved gold awards”

Diageo has set out a ten-year sustainability action plan, which includes a target for its operations to reach net-zero climate impact by 2030.

The global drinks company is also investing £185 million to create a major Scotch whisky tourism experience in Edinburgh’s Princes Street, as well as reviving lost distilleries Port Ellen and Brora.

As well as the aforementioned whiskies, the firm owns Crown Royal, J&B, Buchanan’s and Windsor whiskies, Smirnoff, Cîroc and Ketel One vodkas, Captain Morgan, Baileys, Don Julio, Tanqueray and Guinness.