Sustainable sipping anyone? A good drink shouldn’t cost the earth and the spirits industry is starting to take note.
An increasing number of distilleries are finding ways to mitigate their environmental impact.
From distilleries run on renewable energy to regenerative farming techniques and innovative new flavours created from food waste, the pebble team have rounded up five of the best sustainable spirit brands.
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Quick links to pebble’s fave sustainable spirit brands
Why sustainable spirits are the solution
The beverage industry has its fair share of waste and environmental impact.
There’s the carbon footprint of distilling and transportation to consider, the amount of water used and the vast amount of elaborate packaging discarded (or at best recycled).
And what about the raw ingredients?
Arguably, land reserved for alcohol production, with crops such as barley, rice and potatoes, reduces food-growing capacity.
As the population grows and the demand for food increases, crops supplied for alcohol production take food resources away from those in the world who need it most.
So, what’s the answer?
Many sustainable drinks brands are working to improve their environmental impact, but as there isn’t yet an industry standard for sustainability, approaches tend to vary.
So, if you want to make a difference with your drink of choice, here are our top 5 best sustainable spirits to raise a glass to.
5 Of The Best Sustainable Spirits To Raise A Glass To
1. Best sustainable rum: Two Drifters
Devon based Two Drifters is on a mission to make rum green. Everything from the distillation process to the packaging has a carbon negative footprint.
Any CO2 that can’t be avoided is offset through the nonprofit, ClimateWorks as a carbon tax. This helps the brand stay accountable for any carbon produced.
The pebble team love that Two Drifters makes the rum itself rather than importing it from the Caribbean or South America so it has complete control of the whole process from fermentation to bottling.
All equipment in the distillery is electric and runs on a combination of renewable solar, wind, tidal and nuclear energy. This means it’s able to bring the carbon footprint down by a third compared to other distilleries.
Choose from a full-bodied signature rum, spiced rum, taster sets or even book a distillery tour.
Pros: Negative carbon footprint | High quality favours | Plastic free packaging
Cons: More expensive than other brands
Two Drifters Rum bottles start from £40.00.
2. Best organic whisky: Nc’Nean
Bottoms up for organic and sustainable whisky brand, Nc’Nean.
Annabel Thomas left her job in London to build a whisky distillery in Scotland from the ground up that works in harmony with the planet.
The environment is at the heart of the brand and it puts its money where its mouth is in the annual Sustainability Report which you can read online. This level of transparency is a big hit with the pebble team.
Certified by the Biodynamic Association, Nc’Nean uses organic barley sustainably grown on the east coast of Scotland. The whisky is also flavoured with hand foraged organic botanicals from the local area.
Go for an organic single malt whisky, botanical spirits or gift set.
Pros: Organic | Plastic free | Zero waste | Beautiful packaging
Cons: More expensive than other brands | First batch may be too young for some
Nc’Nean Whisky bottles start from £47.95
3. Best spirits from food waste: Discarded Spirits
pebble’s particular favourite is the Discarded Banana Peel Rum which tastes like a blend of banana bread, treacle and rich butterscotch.
For something a little lighter, you can’t go wrong with a delicious Discarded Grape Skin Vodka created using Chardonnay grape pomace (skins, stems and seeds) which is usually discarded in the wine-making process.
The result is a crisp vodka with notes of green apple and a pink peppercorn finish.
Pros: Tackles food waste | Vermouth is reasonably priced | Distinct and unique flavours | Featured in selected cocktail bars
Cons: A little hard to buy online | Sustainable distilling process unknown
Discarded Spirits Vermouth is £19.00 whereas the Banana Rum is £30.00.
Check out The World’s Most Rubbish Bar – a bar that serves cocktails made from locally sourced waste, created by Discarded.
Known as the Discarded Circular Cocktail Economy, unwanted coffee grounds, leftover citrus husks and flat sparkling wine will be given a second life and transformed into amazing cocktails.
It runs from Friday 15th October 2021 until Sunday 17th October 2021 at The Ditch, Old Street, London, EC1V 9LT. Two sessions daily: 6pm-8pm and 9pm-11pm.
4. Best vodka for activists: Koskenkorva Vodka
Climate action with a shot of vodka? The Finnish spirit brand Koskenkorva seems to think so with its aptly named Climate Action Vodka.
Korskenkorva is committed to becoming the world’s most sustainable vodka with a goal to reach carbon-neutral production by 2025.
Hitting UK shelves on 1st October 2021, this smooth single-estate vodka is made with regeneratively farmed barley that helps fight climate change.
The sustainable farming technique removes CO2 from the atmosphere and stores it in the ground to create a carbon sink. What’s more, it improves biodiversity, stops nutrients leaking into water bodies and produces high quality crop yields.
The brand claims if this method of regenerative agriculture was adopted on all the world’s croplands and farming, we could potentially remove 322 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. No biggie!
Pros: Regeneratively farmed ingredients | Tackles climate change | Supports biodiversity | Reasonably priced
Cons: Shipped from Finland so unclear how it will mitigate carbon footprint
Climate Action Vodka will be available to buy at Masters of Malt, Amazon and the Whisky Exchange. Prices start from £22.75.
5. Best gin refills: Isle of Harris Distillery
Ideal for gin lovers, Isle of Harris Distillery has recently launched an exciting new refill project which allows you to order repeat subscriptions of gin without ever having to throw out your pretty glass bottle.
Instead, you can receive a 500ml refill when it’s time to top-up so your glass bottle can continue to have pride of place in your drinks cabinet.
The pebble team love that these new refills are made from aluminium bottles as this material is lightweight and easy to recycle.
Sadly, the refill option is only available as part of a one year subscription, but with it you get a free first bottle, a 500ml refill every month, discount codes and a subscription to the monthly Harris Eco Newsletter via email.
The award-winning Isle of Harris Distillery is no stranger to being a sustainable spirit pioneer.
It provides career opportunities for locals in the Outer Hebrides, gets involved with social projects and uses sustainably sourced local ingredients throughout.
Pros: Allows you to reuse your pretty bottle | Never run out of gin | Aluminium bottle is easily recycled
Cons: The refill bottle is only available through a limited annual subscription service which sets you back £346.50. pebble would like to see more affordable subscription options.
The Isle of Harris Distillery 1 year gin subscription service is available now for £346.50.
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