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Nc’nean’s: First UK Distillery To Reach Net Zero CO2 Emissions

Nc’nean’s 2020 carbon footprint is the first distillery to be verified by Environmental Strategies as net zero in the UK. This means the emissions from Nc’nean distillery’s production were less than the number of emissions removed from the atmosphere.

Nature supports our culture and economies throughout the world.. We haven’t considered it enough for a solution to our climate change challenge.” 

By Wade Crossfoot, Secretary of, California Natural Resources Agency

Yes, along the journey to our success and innovations, we have neglected the damage done to mother Earth. But now, different people in various sectors are joining hands for net-zero emissions and sustainability concepts for a better tomorrow.

The Scotch whisky industries have set the net-zero emission for 2040. This means Nc’nean has reached net-zero status 20 years ahead of the wider category’s goal.

What is the Carbon footprint?

carbon footprint is the total greenhouse gas emissions caused by an individual, event, organization, service, place, or product, expressed as carbon dioxide equivalent. Greenhouse gases, including the carbon-containing gases carbon dioxide and methane, can be emitted through the burning of fossil fuels, land clearance, and the production and consumption of food, manufactured goods, and other services.  The major effects of such practices mainly consist of climate changes, such as extreme precipitation and acidification, and warming of oceans.

“Made by nature, Not by Rules”

Nc’Nean distillery logo states that it is an independent Organic Whisky Distillery that is pioneering sustainable solutions and concepts.

Recycled Glass

Glass is made in very large furnaces that create on average 300 tonnes of glass a day. They operate by being continuously heated to melt the raw ingredients (sand, limestone, and soda ash) into the molten glass which is then poured into molds. On average, they produce 117 tonnes of CO2 a day for melting the raw materials as well as for heating the natural gas to release energy for heating.

According to Sasha Holt in The Truth of Glass article says- “It’s no more difficult to make recycled glass than virgin glass, but the issue in the UK is that we don’t have enough good quality recycled clear glass (cullet) to make clear glass bottles with high recycled content. At the moment, if you want a glass bottle with a high recycled content you need to get the green glass. Dark glass is good, but that doesn’t work for a lot of products and brands – especially in the food and drinks industry where high quality, crystal clear glass (known as flint or extra-flint) is favored.

The manufacture of flint glass in the UK is about 65% of the glass production, but a lot of that is exported in the form of finished products and actually what we have in our recycling bins are high percentages of green glass and brown glass – mostly because we import and consume products in these containers (think beer and wine). To add to the issue, we don’t recycle enough and we have moved away from using bottle banks and now have co-mingled recycling. You might think this makes it easier for you, but it means that the clear glass gets broken and mixed up with other colors, making it more difficult to separate and get a good quality of color-specific cullet.

If you look at any bottles on your shelf you will see they are very clear with no ‘tinge’ of any other color and no blemishes. In the industry, this is called ‘extra flint’ and is generally required for all premium products. If you have one of our bottles, you’ll notice that it has a slightly green tinge and possibly some small air bubbles or blemishes. Allowing these small blemishes through the quality reviews means fewer glasses are rejected in the factory, further reducing the carbon footprint of each one.

This reduces the carbon footprint of each bottle by 40%. The 100% recycled glass usage is a step in the right direction. To make the whisky which goes in those very bottles the distillery emits 40 tonnes of CO2 a year.

This feels like our greatest achievement so far. From the moment we started on this adventure, there have been plenty of people who told us that using renewable energy would be too hard and that organic barley would be impossible to work with. Many even said that using a 100% recycled glass bottle just wasn’t the done thing in premium spirits. In a year when Scotland is hosting COP26 [United Nations Climate Change Conference] and sustainability is such a hot topic, it is my hope that our work will inspire others in our industry. We want more companies to look at their mode of operating and make improvements where they can, as we will also be continuing to do across our business.

By Annabel Thomas, the Nc’nean founder

Organic Farming

The distillery is also certified organic, and its whisky is made from organic Scottish barley. Plus, Nc’nean is designed to use 80% less water than a traditional distillery. Its water is constantly recycled via a natural cooling pond, so the distillery can use the same water repeatedly without needing the energy to cool it down, or chemical additives to clean it.

Our whisky makes the biggest flavor impression with the smallest carbon footprint and that’s why we only use organic barley, 100% renewable energy, and will bottle your whisky into a 100% recycled glass bottle. The organic barley’s rich soils result in concentrated flavor in the grains, and our spirit, giving our whisky exceptional body and texture before it even hits the cask.

By Cindy Drew

As part of its sustainability commitment, Nc’nean recycles or reuses 99.97% of its waste.

Amy Stammers, Nc’nean’s head of sustainability, added: “Sustainability has been at the heart of our mission since inception and it really is at the core of everything we do. Working to produce our first full carbon footprint has been tough but rewarding, and it is my hope that others in the industry will follow in our footsteps and publish theirs too. It is only by measuring emissions that companies can really focus on reducing them. There is still more to achieve.

Refill packs

So, the next move the distillery is planning reduces the number of bottles produced, and to do that they have thought to allow people to reuse and re-fill the bottles that they have already bought to reduce carbon footing.

The name Nc’ Nean

The inspiration for the name, Neachneohain, was an ancient Gaelic goddess. She was known as the Queen of Spirits and a fierce protector of nature. Strong and independent, she was never afraid to walk her own path.

The distillery takes inspiration from the Goddess and tries to create a strong, independent, and sustainable distillery that could exist in harmony with the planet. A young, independent whisky distillery, Nc’nean started distilling an organic single malt whisky on Drimnin Estate, west coast of Scotland in March 2017.

Product Variations available

Nc’ Nean Distillery produces a variety of spirits to blow us away:

  1. Organic Single Malt Scotch Whiskey– The whisky is made from organic Scottish barley to contribute a depth of flavor. Matured in specially treated red wine and American whiskey barrels to develop the spirit’s signature body and sweetness. It is smooth and elegant with notes of peach, pineapple, lemongrass, ginger, etc. It is bottled at 46% abv.
  2. Organic Botanical Spirit– A 100% organic gin with a combination of classic gin botanicals and a local Scottish plan to create a rich and floral spirit. The gin has peppery spirituous spice notes, barley notes combined with herbal and dark fruity notes. The gin is bottled for 500ml with 40% abv.
  3. Organic Aged Botanical Spirit in Bourbon Cask– This spirit gives a Rich Vanilla flavor profile, 40% abv and is matured for 110 days.
  4. Organic Aged Botanical Spirit in Mondino Cask– This spirit gives a Bitter Sweet flavor profile, 40% abv and is matured for 60 days.
  5. Organic Aged Botanical Spirit in Vermouth Cask– This spirit gives a Complex Herbal flavor profile, 40% abv and is matured for 60 days.

You can even visit the Nc’Nean Distillery to know about the whiskey, make your customized cask, spend time with the team, and even control how long you can age your whiskey.  The distillery with its innovative and award-winning spirits and sustainable efforts will make you say- “it’s delicious.”

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