Engineering a greener future for distilled spirits

Under construction – a pre-visualisation of Ardgowan’s ‘carbon negative’ distillery near Inverkip

HELPING the spirits industry meet its decarbonisation targets is a specialist business – as no two distilleries are the same, green solutions have to be tailor made to suit each operation.

But with a portfolio of clients that already includes Diageo, Pernod Ricard, Beam Suntory, Brown-Forman and William Grant & Sons, engineering firm Briggs of Burton can justifiably claim to be at the cutting-edge of creating sustainable technology for alcohol production.

The company, which has offices in Forres and Burton upon Trent, was in the spotlight at this week’s Worldwide Distilled Spirits Conference in Edinburgh, with a keynote speech outlining the latest systems which can capture and re-use the vapour from whisky stills, reduce liquid effluent and use sources of local renewable green energy to provide electricity.

Done properly, Briggs of Burton reckons that distilleries can cut their stillhouse energy usage by up to 80%.

Head of marketing, Scott Davies, said: “Distilleries face numerous challenges when it comes to meeting their sustainability targets. Firstly, no two distilleries are the same, which means that each one comes with a unique set of requirements. However, it’s more important than ever for whisky and distilleries to go green.

“There are now lots of options for decarbonisation which can be tailored to each distillery, including the transition to electrification with electric steam generation, high voltage electrode boilers, and even thermal oil systems for a distillery to consider. These can generate very large energy savings, typically between 50-80% in the stillhouse.”

Mr Davies added: “If a distillery has equipment nearing its end of life such as a boiler or transformer, this might be an opportunity to consider other fuels such as hydrogen or electric. They can also take advantage of their location; whether they are inland or next to a large loch, there are ways to tap into these local aspects to find innovative solutions.”

Briggs of Burton recently partnered with Ardgowan Distillery to lead the design, build and engineering of its carbon negative distillery near Inverkip, which is due to open in 2024.