Scotch Distillery Bears A Green Label

There hadn’t been a big new distillery built in Scotland in more than 30 years, so it was a good bet that the one opened recently by drinks giant Diageo — maker of iconic brands such as the Scotch whiskey Johnnie Walker — is more technologically advanced and sustainable than any in history.

Roseisle, in the northeast distilling-intensive county of Moray, “has been designed to build on best practice from Diageo’s other 27 malt distilleries and its grain distilleries to improve efficiency and performance,” Diageo said in a press release. And it wasn’t kidding. Fewer than a dozen employees operate the plant, which is capable of putting out 10 million liters of booze a year. It also won the 2010 Sustainability Project of the Year and overall Project of the Year for Scotland from the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors.

Roseisle, Diageo distillery

image via Diageo

The distillery has a water reclamation system that will reportedly save up to 300,000 cubic meters of water per year. And the steam that charges its stills is generated with a nifty bit of recycling: The leftover grain from the mash tun, called draff, and the residue from the wash still, which are typically sold off as animal feed, are instead gobbled up in an onsite biomass plant. This reduces CO2 emissions by approximately 13,000 tons, Diageo said.

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Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.