Food, travel, fuel, waste, fashion… there are ethical alternatives in almost every aspect of our daily lives, and given worrying recent reports on global warming, more of us are looking to make sustainable choices and support ethical brands, where possible.
The good news for us Scottish gin lovers is that a number of gin brands and distilleries are taking steps to improve their green credentials, giving us more ethical options when it comes to buying and enjoying our favourite spirit.
A sustainable distillery
Beinn An Tuirc distillery, in Campbeltown, Argyle is probably Scotland’s most sustainable gin distillery. Torrisdale Castle Estate, where the superb Kintyre Botanical Gin is distilled in a former piggery, runs a number of sustainable initiatives.
Scotland’s plentiful rainfall plays a key role in the production of Kintyre Gin. Not only is their copper still powered by their own green, hydro-electric scheme, but local spring water, drawn from the land around the estate, is a key ingredient in the gin itself.
The team at Beinn An Tuirc also help reduce their environmental impact by planting a tree in their woods for each and every case of Kintyre Gin that’s sold, and visitors to their distillery and shop also have the opportunity to leave a legacy by planting a tree on the estate.
As if that’s not enough, the distillery also takes social responsibility seriously and re-invest a percentage of their profits in local businesses, particularly supporting local entrepreneurs.
A gin that does good
Apart from the brilliant name, Ginerosity does much more than your average Scottish gin brand. When launching the world’s first social enterprise gin, the team behind Ginerosity felt passionately about the power of businesses to do good.
The team (including Marcus Pickering and Matt Gammell, co-founders of award-winning Pickering’s Gin and Chris Thewlis, social enterprise entrepreneur) developed the concept of a gin where the profits are poured back into projects that offer disadvantaged young adults in Scotland the opportunity to undertake overseas placements that provide skills, training and personal development.
Unsurprisingly, being made at the famous Summerhall Distillery in Edinburgh, Ginerosity also tastes great and looks fantastic on your gin shelf.
An eco-friendly bottle switch
We’ve known and loved the iconic blue ceramic McQueen Gin bottle for a while now, but we applaud the decision of the distillery to switch to a more environmentally-friendly glass version.
The new bottle, recently showcased in the Aldi-exclusive Sweet Citrus Gin, retains the shape and features of the original, but is easier to recycle and with a greener production process.
Dale McQueen,founder and managing director of McQueen Gin, said: “Our bottle design has been central to the establishment of our brand and the popularity of the gin. However, with our beautiful planet in mind, we decided it was time to look into introducing a more eco-friendly glass bottle to the current range.”
Field to bottle gin
When it comes to provenance and traceability, you can’t beat Arbikie. Their distillery is based on a 2,000-acre farm, known as the Arbikie Highland Estate in Angus.
A ‘single estate’ distillery, the team at Arbikie grow, distil and bottle on site, meaning they cut out unnecessary transportation. Additionally, their range of gins feature locally foraged botanicals with potatoes, wheat and honey farmed on the estate, meaning you can trace the journey back from your glass right back to the fields of Angus.
Refill at the still
Using water drawn from one of the most beautiful and famous lochs in the world, Loch Ness Spirits are dedicated to caring for the environment. To help with their mission, they offer loyal customers the opportunity to refill their empty gin bottles, while offering them a discount to encourage this. That’s gin-ius!
Gin from jam
Originally called the “Jam Bothy”, Kim Cameron, owner of The Gin Bothy, focused on the production of a range of jams using local berries. When she noticed the excess of berry juice in the production process, her mum suggested she try making gin, cutting out any waste.
She did, and since then, gin making has become the main driver of the business, and their no-waste approach now works the other way round, with the gin-infused fruit being made into jam.
The Gin Bothy also invites customers to bring back empty bottles back to get a discount on their next purchase of their range of fantastic gins.
Gin for bees and trees
The Garden Shed Drinks Company really did start producing their small-batch Garden Shed Gin in a shed in their garden in the west end of Glasgow.
Now produced at Eden Mill distillery, the company are dedicated to producing gin in the most environmentally friendly way, which is why they donate a percentage of profits to Trees4scotland and The Bumblebee conservation trust.
At the Scottish Gin Society, we 100% support gin producers making a real effort to produce sustainable and ethical Scottish Gin products. Sustainability isn’t only in the best interests of our environment but it also provides financial benefits for the business.
Provenance, sustainability, eco-production and traceability might be fashionable buzz-words, but we think they’re here to stay. And distilleries that do their bit to negate their environmental impact and do good in their local communities will reap the benefits, not only by appealing to a wider audience of ethical consumers but in the long term, cutting back on production costs and being more, well, sustainable.
So if you’re currently weighing up the impact of your purchases and consumption against the impact they have on the environment, these are a starting point for some great Scottish gins you can enjoy… and feel good about.
The Scottish Gin Society