How new distilleries are looking to a greener future - including Port Ellen, Rosebank and Benbecula

With Port Ellen open, and Rosebank set to reopen this summer, these new chapters for old brands come with a greener lease of life.

With tours available to book now, Port Ellen is a new state of the art distillery that has been designed to be carbon neutral, a huge step as the whole industry works towards the 2040 target. The relaunch of this once lost distillery coincides with Rosebank in Falkirk also being reopened this summer. After plans were submitted in 2018 and given the green light by Falkirk Council in 2019, the historic distillery will open to the public in June. Dubbed the ‘King of the Lowlands’, by many, Rosebank was a hugely respected and sought-after Lowland single malt before it ceased production in 1993 when former owner UDV (now Diageo), mothballed the site. Its maltings were eventually converted into a restaurant.

After lying empty for 24 years, Leonard Russell, managing director of Ian Macleod Distillers, which also owns Glengoyne, Tamdhu and Edinburgh Gin, was determined to save the distillery. With this new lease of life comes an opportunity to make Rosebank greener, and the team are drawing on their experience with Glengoyne for inspiration. Reed beds at Glengoyne have been planted to filter out the impurities in the effluent, plus beehives have been placed around the site to encourage pollination. As well as this, an anaerobic digester has been installed at Glengoyne. While there’s no space for reed beds at Rosebank, Robbie Hughes, group distillation manager, explained that the distilling will be as green as possible, saying: “We have sourced the most efficient boiler we can possibly buy, and it’s the same for the cooling tower that requires the least amount of water. We’re also looking for the draff and pot ale to go to a biofuels plant that is just four miles from the distillery.” And, in a move that won’t surprise regular distillery visitors, the original mill, thought to be around 103 years old, has been retained and continues to be used in the production of Rosebank’s whisky as it did over thirty years ago.

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But what of other new distilleries opening this year? We can expect at least seven new sites in Scotland in 2024, including Eden Mill (which will be operational but not open to the public until 2025), Benbecula, Argowan and Portintruan on Islay. At Eden Mill - which will be based on The University of St Andrews' Eden Campus - all electricity will be sourced from renewable sources including the University's own solar array farm and Co2 from the fermentation will be captured and re-used by the University. Ardgowan is set to have sustainability at its heart. The design for the distillery uses low environmental impact composite cladding, timber and steel materials to create a light-filled modern Nordic long hall. While over on Uist, the Benbecula distillery - which has been given funding of up to £1.99m from Highlands and Islands Enterprise, will have pioneering and innovative low carbon technologies in its design, build and distillation process.

These new projects not only give us the excitement of new whiskies, but, with the use of technology and design, are leading the way on the road to net zero.



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