A HISTORIC Speyside distillery has completed a £4 million upgrade which makes it one of the greenest in the Scotch whisky industry, its owner has declared.

International Beverage Holdings has invested in an integrated system of green technology at Balmenach Distillery, which produces nearly three million litres of alcohol per year for its own blends and the wider blended Scotch whisky market.

Balmenach, which dates from 1824 and is one of the oldest in Speyside, is also home to the company’s Caorunn premium Scottish gin brand.

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Central to the green technology system is a new anaerobic/ aerobic digestion plant, which uses micro-organisms to break down the liquid co-products of whisky production, pot ale and spent lees, allowing them to be processed on site.

This process produces clean bio-methane gas which feeds a combined heat and power (CHP) engine to generate power for the distillery and the grid. It integrates with an existing biomass boiler which uses locally sourced wood pellets to produce zero-carbon steam for the system.

The investment in green technology means that the distillery is now able to access all of its power needs from a renewable source, while improving energy and water efficiency and reducing its use of road transportation.

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It has been heralded by International Beverage Holdings, which owns the Old Pulteney, Balblair, anCnoc and Speyburn single malt brands, as its biggest investment in sustainable whisky production to date, and a major step forward in its aim to use only renewable energy for production by 2040.

Group distillery manager Sean Priestley said: “At IBHL there is a culture of genuine accountability for the environmental impact of our production process, which means we have been striving for cleaner, greener whisky production many years ahead of the current Scotch Whisky Association’s sustainability target of net zero by 2040.

“The system we’ve built at Balmenach has been challenging, but a combination of investment, innovation, partnership working, and perseverance are paying off, resulting in the significant reductions we are able to report in emissions and energy use today, which will only increase over time.”

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Malcolm Leask, managing director of International Beverage Holdings, said: “‘The completion of our £4m project at Balmenach leads our ambition to decarbonise production and achieve industry leading standards of sustainability in the future.

“Sustainability is a long held and central commitment in our business, from the Dow Jones Sustainability Index listing of our parent company ThaiBev to the daily efforts of our distillery teams across Scotland to respect and care for the local land, lochs and rivers that surround them.

“This is one of the industry’s oldest distilleries and it wasn’t built for efficiency. But nearly 200 years on, the improvements we are seeing in terms of energy use, emissions and efficiency show just what is possible in sustainability at such a historic site.”