INVER House Distillers is investing £3 million to transform one of Speyside’s oldest whisky distilleries into one of the most environmental friendly in Scotland

Work has begun at Balmenach Distillery, which is also the home of Caorunn Scottish Gin, on a biogas project which will significantly reduce the site’s carbon footprint.

Airdrie-based Inver House, which is owned by International Beverage Holdings and counts Old Pulteney, Balblair and Hankey Bannister among its brands, has commissioned a new anaerobic digestion system, which breaks down the by-products of whisky production to produce clean, methane-rich biogas to power the site.

The technology will integrate with Balmenach’s existing wood-pellet biomass boiler, and Inver House said that when complete, the combined system will generate enough renewable steam and electricity to meet 100 per cent of the distillery’s energy requirements with a surplus of electrical energy supplied to the grid.

In addition to gin production, the site near Granton-on-Spey is predicted to produce two million litres of whisky for the blended Scotch market in 2018.

As a fringe benefit to the reduced emissions, improved energy efficiency and reduced operational costs, there will also be a reduction in heavy goods vehicles at the site.

The system will also return clean water to a nearby burn, and nutrient rich bio-solids to the land for barley farming.

Inver House Distillers’ managing director Martin Leonard said: ‘Inver House Distillers was an early champion of green distilling in Scotland, and sustainability and consideration for the environmental impact at each of our sites is at the heart of our business strategy.”

He said the use of new technology at Balmenach furthered that commitment.

“It’s an exciting step in our journey and we also hope this investment will demonstrate how low carbon manufacture and clean growth are achievable, regardless of the size, location or output of the production site.”

The contract is being fulfilled by two businesses. Synergie Environ, a Glasgow-based low carbon energy engineering company, is project managing the installation at Balmenach.

Berkshire-based Clearfleau, a specialist provider of on-site biogas plants for the food and drink industry, is working with Inver House to design and build the new system.

In addition, Inver House will continue to work with Balcas, which operates the existing biomass steam system at Balmenach. In the two years since its installation, it has enabled Balmenach to reduce its carbon footprint by 10,000 tonnes.

The distillery was founded in 1824 and has been part of Inver House since 1997.