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Royal Brackla whisky distillery improves sustainability

Brackla distillery
Rebecca Kincade on October 29, 2014 - 1:16 pm in News

The UK Green Investment Bank (GIB) has announced that the Royal Brackla Distillery in Nairn is the latest Scottish distillery to benefit from funding to improve its energy efficiency in which it will partner local company Balcas.

The project will finance the installation of a biomass boiler to replace the existing, heavy fuel oil boilers. This will reduce the distillery’s energy costs and its greenhouse gas emissions, without requiring any up-front capital investment from the distillery.

The boilers will be used to produce steam, necessary for several parts of the whisky production process.

Speaking at the Green Investment Conference in Edinburgh, GIB’s Chairman Lord Smith of Kelvin, said:

“Scotch whisky is a critically important part of the Scottish economy. That’s why I am delighted that we are able to help another distillery to save money and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. These projects have been structured so that the distilleries can start saving money from day one and don’t need to find the capital up-front.

This is an investment to help one of our most iconic industries to modernise, become more efficient and reduce its carbon footprint.”

The project is expected to save the same amount of greenhouse gas emissions as taking 2,265 cars off the road. As well as saving greenhouse gas emissions by switching from oil to biomass, the biomass boiler is anticipated to be 50% more energy efficient than the current oil-fired boilers.

Royal Brackla, run by John Dewar & Sons Ltd. – one of the most respected names in the world of Scotch whisky – was founded on the outskirts of Nairn in 1812. It was the first distillery to receive the Royal Warrant and has been since lauded as “The King’s Own Whisky.” It was also one of the first malt whiskies used in producing blended whisky. As announced in September, the Royal Brackla distillery will also soon introduce three never-before-released single malts in March 2015 — 12-year-old, 16-year-old and 21-year-old ROYAL BRACKLA® expressions. Since 1998, the distillery has been owned by Bacardi.

Iain Lochhead, Operations Director of John Dewar & Sons Royal Brackla distillery, said:

“The installation of the biomass boiler will mark a significant change in the environmental performance of the distillery as we are expecting an annual target reduction of some 5,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions. This goes hand-in-hand with our Company’s larger “Good Spirited” goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions globally by 50% by 2017. By a happy coincidence it also marks the return of Royal Brackla as a single malt with a range of expressions being released early next year. So all in all, 2015 promises to be an exciting year for the Royal Brackla distillery.”

Earlier this year, GIB announced that it had made £5m available to fund energy efficiency projects at a number Scottish distilleries, via its fund manager Equitix. Half of this will come from GIB, with matched funding from private capital through the Equitix managed Equitix Energy Efficiency Fund. The project at Royal Brackla Distillery will be financed from this tranche of funding.

The Dewar’s Aberfeldy distillery in Perthshire, Balmenach distillery in Speyside and Tomatin distillery near Inverness have already taken advantage of the finance available and put in place energy efficiency measures. Tomatin distillery is on track to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by c. 80 per cent, and Aberfeldy distillery estimates that it will reduce its carbon footprint by up to 90 per cent.

The Secretary of State for Scotland, Alistair Carmichael, said:

“The UK Green Investment Bank that this Coalition Government set up continues to go from strength to strength by investing in key Scottish business sectors like whisky, allowing them to cut energy costs and protect the environment. I’m delighted to see more projects in Scotland benefit from UK GIB.

“Growing the Scottish and UK economy is a priority for this government and doing it in an environmentally responsible way is crucial to tackling climate change. The UK GIB is a key partner in helping us achieve our priorities.”

Geoff Jackson, Chief Executive Director, Equitix, said: “We are seeing a strong and growing appetite from distilleries to convert to sustainable biomass, both due to increasing Carbon Reduction Commitments and to seek ways to reduce energy bills. Equitix are pleased to be able to provide financing for these biomass boiler solutions through our managed funds.

“We will continue to work with our partners to deliver these projects to our whisky distillery clients.”

Ernest Kidney, Managing Director, Balcas added;

“Royal Brackla is the fourth distillery to benefit from our fully integrated energy solution. We are delighted to be working with the organisation to assist them in reducing business overheads and overall environmental impact.

The Scotch whisky industry has certainly embraced the switch to renewable fuels, and is leading the way for industrial steam users in the UK. This is in turn providing instant and significant carbon savings, security of fuel supply and the opportunity for these companies to take advantage of the governments’ Renewable Heat Incentive, which offers substantial commercial benefits.”

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