Love of whisky and a beautiful property in Kinglake were the foundations of Kinglake Distillery, no electricity was just another problem that needed to be worked through during the set-up process. However, over the last four years we’ve not only become more aware of how integral the natural environment is to our whisky but also how important it is for everyone to take individual responsibility for it.
Now, with a decent amount of whisky ageing and sales taking off, we looked at how we want to develop. We realised to be a brand that we’re proud of and that customers can love we needed to do more to look after the planet.
We got very excited by the plan of building a solar farm to power the whole distillery but after working through the numbers with an electricity guru, we began to appreciate just how much energy it takes to boil liquid. The batteries alone would cost more than the entire set up cost of the distillery and we quickly gave up the idea.
But over the coming weeks we realised having woken our conscience, neither of us were now comfortable doing nothing. Although boiling a Still our size with solar electricity was prohibitive, there were many areas we could improve and we also looked more deeply into how to offset carbon footprint.
The result was we decided to do the following:
To certify our business and products as carbon neutral. This involves calculating every input we have used since we started making whisky and then buying Australian government carbon credits to offset this. Rather than simply planting trees, government offsets must fit much stricter criteria and often involve stopping something happening, such as buying land in Borneo to stop deforestation.
Some say buying carbon credits is not the answer and is simply paying to pollute. Whilst it’s hard to argue with the straightforwardness of this position, we believe offsetting has merit and the way forward must involve pragmatism.
Nevertheless, the primary goal has got to be reducing footprint and from now on we’re committing to continually asking where to we can make improvements and to reducing our necessary offset each year.
We’re also looking at donating a large portion of our farmland for re-foresting and assessing whether we can afford the reduction in the value of the distillery property.
We’re very inexperienced and still learning when it comes to sustainability so we would love feedback and input.
Finally, I wanted to mention another distillery that shows what is possible when sustainability is the foundation of your business. We set out to make a great whisky and now we’re thinking about sustainability. Swiftcrest Distillery set out to make sustainable spirits from the outset.
They are totally off-grid and their water also comes from natural a stream. Like us, they use steam to power their still but rather than gas, their boiler is fired with deadfall wood picked up from around their incredible property in Mansfield. Being gentle to their natural surrounds and the planet is really part of their DNA and if you’re in that area it’s a must visit.