Sat, Dec 07, 2019 - Page 13 News List

Smells like green spirits

Whiskey makers are making a play for climate conscious drinkers


Nally said that wastewater resulting from distillation is treated before it’s released, and spent grains, or stillage, go to local farms where they’re re-purposed as livestock feed.

“While we certainly don’t claim to have ‘solved’ each and every impact that our industry has on the environment,” he said, “we care about our planet’s future, and recognize the role we play.”

Maker’s Mark has two main sustainability projects in the works, Nally said. One centers on water management between its two lake ecosystems, the other is forest management, in collaboration with the University of Kentucky’s oak research project. Like the Garry Oak Project in Washington state, the latter is aimed at ensuring healthier future tree populations.


Beyond sustainable sourcing of water and wood, other alcohol purveyors have taken a more novel approach to green branding. At Copper & Kings, a Kentucky-based brandy maker, they make their Mystery spirit by distilling all the discarded tasting samples and other unused spirits together, rather than tossing it all out. Additionally, the distillery houses a monarch butterfly way station, makes use of solar paneling and even hosts two beehives.

Until recently, bee preservation hasn’t received much mainstream attention. But now that industrial crop production, pesticides and the climate crisis have threatened these critical pollinators, consumers are starting to pay heed. Caledonia Spirits, which grew out of a Vermont apiary owned by Todd Hardie, has become one of several distilleries producing honey-based spirits (another is Catskill Provisions) that have sought to protect the bees.

By supporting the beekeeping industry and donating to organizations that create more hives, Caledonia Spirits said it’s doing its part to help keep pollinators alive.

“Bees are gentle creatures that feed us,” said Caledonia head distiller Ryan Christiansen. “It’s important to solve this problem.”

Along with educational events for both adults and children held at the distillery’s own nature preserve, Caledonia holds an annual, week-long fundraising event featuring Bees Knees cocktails, made with its honey-based Barr Hill Gin. (The gin, lemon and honey cocktail has a curious history that involves the Titanic.)

This year, the campaign took place in over 1,000 bars and restaurants, Christiansen said, adding that it’s raised US$61,000 since 2017. The beneficiary changes annually: this year, it was the Bee Cause Project, a nonprofit dedicated to raising bee awareness through early education.

Warning: Excessive consumption of alcohol can damage your health.

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