Business

The sustainable spirits shaking up the drinks industry

By Rebecca Cairns, CNN Business

Updated 4:04 AM ET, Fri October 8, 2021
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Arbikie Distillery says its pea-based gin is the world's first "climate positive" gin. A life-cycle analysis found it removes 1.54 kilograms of CO2 from the atmosphere per bottle by not using synthetic fertilizers and utilizing the leftover peas as high-protein animal feed -- meaning the process of making each bottle absorbs more carbon than it emits. Take a look at these other alcohol innovations making the spirits industry more sustainable. Courtesy Arbikie Highland Estate
US-based Endless West is creating lab-made molecular whiskey, wines and sake that require less water and land, creating 40% fewer carbon emissions, according to the company. Courtesy Endless West
Nc'Nean Distillery in Scotland produces whisky with organic barley in a distillery powered by renewable energy. It also uses 100% recycled clear glass bottles, which it says is a "first in Scotch whisky." Courtesy Nc'Nean Distillery
The Sustainable Spirit Co. specializes in ethical and eco-friendly spirits, reducing packaging by providing "bottles for life" that can be refilled with reusable pouches — which it says has saved more than 300,000 bottles from production. Fifteen percent of sales from its Toti Rum are donated to marine conservation charities. Courtesy Sustainable Spirits Co.
In April 2021, Silent Pool Distillers launched Green Man Woodland gin, the "world's first" spirit packaged in a cardboard bottle. Made from 94% recycled paper, the bottle is lightweight and 100% recyclable. The company says its carbon footprint is six times lower than glass and it uses 77% less plastic. Courtesy Silent Pool Distiller
Air Company is creating vodka from carbon dioxide captured as a byproduct of fermentation. The company says its vodka is "carbon-negative" and each liter cleans 1 pound of CO2 from the atmosphere. Courtesy Air Company
Tequila is notoriously water intensive -- researchers estimate for every gallon of the spirit, 18 gallons of toxic waste water are produced. That's why Ambhar Tequila has dedicated itself to creating low impact spirits using a rainwater irrigation system that conserves water. Additionally, it composts leftover agave to minimize waste. From Ambhar Tequila
It's not just craft distillers making commitments to sustainability; drinks giant Beam Suntory has invested $1 billion in its sustainability initiative, "Proof Positive," which aims to cut water usage and greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030. Its whisky brand, Maker's Mark, constructed a new solar array in Loretto, Kentucky (pictured), to offset the energy needed to store the bourbon barrels as they age. Beam Suntory
The drinks industry isn't just cleaning up the spirits themselves, but the way they are delivered to bars. Singapore-based EcoSPIRITS is a low-emissions, closed-loop distribution system that transports premium spirits direct from distillers to bars in its refillable 4.5-liter EcoTOTE. It's already being used by eco-conscious bars, such as Penicillin in Hong Kong, named "Asia's most sustainable bar." Dan Hodge/CNN