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A Green Future: Keeping Whisky Sustainable

This 90-minute virtual roundtable, hosted by Becky Paskin, journalist and founder of OurWhisky, features a panel of sustainability experts in a solution focused discussion about the innovative ways we can create a greener whisky industry.



Becky Paskin, founder, OurWhisky (host)

Courtney McKee, CEO and Co-Founder, Headframe Spirits

Chico Rosa, Master Distiller, Oxford Artisan Distillery

John Cant, Sustainability Lead for Diageo Sustainable Solutions, Diageo

With an introduction from Josh Wortman, Whiskey Portfolio Director for Distill Ventures

Keeping Whisky Sustainable: The Key Findings

Whisky entrepreneurs and industry professionals signed up for our recent webinar, discussing how the spirits and whisky industries can become more sustainable.

It’s important to consider the environmental impact that whisky production leaves on this planet. For this webinar, we invited professionals from both the UK and US to discuss how they implemented sustainability strategies into their production process.

Hosting the virtual roundtable was Becky Paskin, journalist and founder of OurWhisky. Joining Becky was Courtney McKee, CEO and Co-Founder of Headframe Spirits, Chico Rosa, Master Distiller at Oxford Artisan Distillery and John Cant, Sustainability Lead for Diageo Sustainable Solutions at Diageo.

We’ve broken down some of the key findings from the webinar into five core takeaways to help make your whisky business greener and more sustainable.

A long way to go for sustainability in the whisky industry

The panel agreed that more needed to be done when it comes to making the whisky industry more sustainable despite significant steps having already been taken by brands.

Courtney highlighted that the efforts to drive sustainability in the industry are more independent and lack guidance, particularly for smaller companies. John built on this, talking about sustainability in the whisky industry being a journey and outlining how making those changes in a way that benefits everyone is paramount to success.

Setting clear goals, as well as mobilising the resources required to become carbon neutral is essential for the longevity of whisky businesses. Whether that’s during the distillation process,  packaging or distribution, you need to make sure that sustainability is a key part of how your business operates.

It’s all about giving something back to local communities and the planet

One of the themes that were discussed throughout the roundtable was the need for whisky brands to give back, not just to local communities, but to the planet. Chico pointed out that while the industry’s efforts to focus on achieving net-zero emissions is great, everyone needs to play a part in fighting climate change.

Courtney mentioned how there’s been a shift in recent years with consumers buying locally-sourced products. For whisky brands, being able to give something back to local communities and the planet is essential when it comes to producing whisky that minimises its impact on the environment.

Education is crucial for making sustainable spirits and whisky

Education was a theme that was discussed throughout the roundtable. Brands and consumers both have a major role to play in educating themselves around this topic. Not only will businesses have the knowledge to produce environmentally-friendly whisky, but buyers know how the product has been sustainably produced by the business.

Courtney passionately spoke about needing to educate consumers around the values of sustainability. In particular, the need to present that story forward to individuals who have little-to-no knowledge of that topic.

Chico talked about how he worked with an expert who studied how grains were grown, helping with the production of their rye whisky. Having a detailed knowledge of every component in your product helps identify opportunities to improve sustainability and ultimately reduce your whisky’s carbon footprint.

Greenwashing is a problem, but an opportunity to inform consumers about sustainability

Rather than seeing greenwashing as a problem, it should be seen as an opportunity to promote sustainable values in society. Chico explained that the issue of greenwashing needed to be communicated with integrity and transparency.

John talked about needing to get the balance right with greenwashing, particularly with meeting sustainability goals. While greenwashing is a problem for whisky brands, it can also spark a positive reaction from consumers unfamiliar with sustainability.

Being educated about sustainable values and living can encourage consumers to buy sustainably sourced whisky.

Opportunity for the whisky industry to lead the way on sustainability

While the whisky industry has numerous challenges to face with regard to sustainability, the panel were optimistic about reaching these net-zero goals by 2030.

Chico highlighted that the industry has a great opportunity to lead the way in delivering sustainable whisky products to consumers. John noted that when promoting products to consumers, transparency is key. Sustainable values need to be communicated clearly to consumers looking to buy environmentally-friendly products.

It’s important that the whisky industry prioritises sustainability so that consumers make more informed decisions about the products they buy.

If you’re in the early stages of building a whisky brand, our new Pre-Accelerator could be for you. Designed to supercharge your business and get you ready for next-stage investment, this program has been designed to promote diversity within the industry and build the brands of ambitious, enthusiastic entrepreneurs.