As COP26 descends on Glasgow, what can Scottish Gin do to help our planet?

Are you ready for COP26?

Unless you’ve chosen to self-isolate from all recent news, you can’t have missed that COP26 is about to land on Glasgow. Appropriately, Glasgow’s name translates to ‘dear green place’. However, these days ‘green’ has a whole new meaning. Can Scottish Gin play it’s part?

COP stands for Conference Of Parties, and what a party it will be. Not in the jelly and ice cream shindigs of Glasgow’s childhood memories. Nor in the Billy Connolly-ised ‘tuck a carry oot under your oxter and listen for the music from the tenement windaes’ kinda way. No, COP26 Glasgow will be a whole series of gatherings of the great, the good, the loud and the opinionated. Hopefully with a smattering of common sense and rock solid commitment thrown in.

So what is COP26 Glasgow likely to achieve?

Is our ‘dear green place’ going to deliver us a dear green world? One thing is guaranteed, it will bring the huge scale of the climate crisis right to the forefront.

I hear you sigh, and well you might. It will be hard to avoid the realities. Sea temperatures rising, ice packs melting, polar bears perishing, and coastal flooding, without feeling entirely helpless and powerless.

We’ll despair of our politicians and business leaders as they flannel away with their assurances and grand promises at Cop26 Glasgow. From experience they’ll wither to nothing once the votes are cast. Yet there IS hope. There IS power for us ordinary folk, (no pun intended). And of course there is Scottish Gin!

Now you might think I’m making light of it all, and I shudder that I might, but not at all. Not for a minute. We can all do our bit and we can all make a difference. As a matter of fact our Scottish producers are already being kind to our planet! Some are using green energy, others recyclable packaging, some use biomass boilers, or have changed to more efficient lighting. Others are caring for the world in different ways. Perhaps making their premises more accessible, supporting endangered animals or planting trees to off-set carbon emissions. Every bit of this is great, and we can all support them by recognising their efforts and buying their products.

Icon for Ginspired Travel Kindly

We’re so inspired, we’ve built a new campaign!

‘Travel Kindly’, using #TravelKindlyScotland, to encourage visitors to consider their impact on the planet when they make their holiday plans. Allowing them to choose Travel Kindly accredited businesses as part of their trip.

We’ll soon be launching an annual Travel Kindly award, but more to come about that soon…..

Below are some of our favourites. We’ve given each of these businesses a ‘Ginspired Travel Kindly’ accreditation. But please share with us any more examples you might have come across.

So, in order to save a polar bear or two, we can switch off lights & eat less meat. We can walk and cycle more. Let’s use electric cars and public transport while wearing an extra cardi. We can make that switch to renewable energy. Turn down the heating, and all of those things we’ll be hearing and reading about during Glasgow’s COP26. BUT, and best of all, we can drink Scottish Gin while we’re doing it. Now that’s my kind of party, and one we can all show up for!


Highland Region

Our site uses only low carbon mains electricity, most of which comes from the wind farm at Forss, so our distillery is fully powered by green energy. We’re pretty proud of that.​

North Point waste will soon be sent to the biomass plant right next to us, and our waste will be converted into energy for on-site car charging points and low carbon energy for the local community. It’s always nice to give back.​

Our bottles are made from recycled glass. Our corks and labels come from sustainably conscious partners and have carbon-free certifications. Being plastic-free was a deliberate choice and no single-use plastic components will be found anywhere in our spirit production. 

Image ©North Point Distillery

Our independent family-owned business provides much needed employment in a fragile rural economy. The distillery currently employs fourteen staff members to create and market its multi award-winning spirits and promote tourism in Caithness.

We generate our own electricity using solar panels on the distillery roof and Rock Rose Gin, is the first gin available in fully recyclable pouches that can be returned to Dunnet Bay Distillery, freepost via standard Royal Mail. Once at the distillery, the pouches will be passed on to be upcycled into new items.

Image ©Dunnet Bay Distillers

At Kinrara, we are very aware of our surroundings. We are fortunate to be based within the heart of the fantastic Cairngorm mountain range and national park.

The Cairngorms Mountain Rescue Team provides assistance to injured or lost persons in the mountains. The area that they cover includes the Northern Cairngorms, Ben Alder and areas of Monadhliath Mountains to the East Side of Loch Ness.

The team is made up entirely of volunteers who give their time freely to help those in need of aid in the mountains. 

Kinrara Distillery has chosen to support the CMRT as our nominated charity this year. This will see us donating  and supporting the team throughout the coming year.

Image ©Kinrara Distillery

Orkney & Shetland Region

Our products are truly handcrafted. Our entire production process is by hand, from the creation and distilling to bottling and labelling. We are proud of our values in our small, family-run business, ensuring we can operate in harmony with our surroundings in Deerness.

Our deer logo is also handcrafted; created and lino-cut by our designer, Caroline. This attention to detail has been carried through to the bottle labelling, with the designs being originally drawn and hand-cut.

We also stock our own range of Deerness Distillery merchandise, which has been sourced and produced by local businesses. Its packaging uses luxury recycled gift bags and ethical tissue paper. This is a testament to our commitment to the environment, and to supporting small local businesses similar to ourselves.

Logo ©Deerness Distillery

Argyll Region

The Islay Hotel is heated with ground source energy, with individual thermostats in every room as well as low energy light bulbs and dimmer switches. As a hotel we aim to reduce the consumption of fuel, energy and water by offering renewal of towels on demand as opposed to daily.

In our bar and restaurant we support local produce from Islay such as chocolates, marmalades and preserves, meat, dairy and fish from the Island as well as great produce from the rest of Scotland. Our kitchen is solely electrical with induction hobs which limit waste of fuels and excess heating.

We aim to recycle as much of our glass (brown, green and clear), paper, cardboard, organic and non-organic waste as possible. As a team our staff are aware of environmental efforts and receive regular instruction, information and training on relevant environmental issues.

Text

Image ©The Argyll Hotel

The Jura Community Shop is owned and managed by its community.  It is the only shop and post office on the island and is located in the main village of Craighouse. It is also the perfect spot for a blether and to catch up on island news.  

We were supported by the Big Lottery Fund and, with the support of our customers, became fully independent and sustainable by 2017.  As a community shop, all our profits will go back into supporting and developing the shop and other community projects.

We use Aquapak at The Botanist – a revolutionary product which has been made into a see-through “leave no trace” plastic bag, which literally disappears before your eyes. It is 100% water soluble, recyclable, compostable and biodegradable; causing none of the issues regular plastic does when we dispose of it. 

Our distillery’s commitment to the environment and wider community was one of the things which earned us B Corp status – a short hand for using our business as a force for good. It was our fellow B Corp company Finisterre, who helped develop the technology for these magic bags – which basically break down into water, carbon dioxide and ‘mineralised biomass’; a natural biological breakdown step of the carbon in the material into carbon dioxide and water. 

Image ©The Botanist

We replaced our two older boilers with a 150kW wood pellet boiler, which saves over 76 tonnes per year, the equivalent to boiling over 3 million kettles!  We’ve also  added a huge pellet store, helping to reduce the number of deliveries needed to our remote location.  We buy from farmers where the animals are born and bred on the property, never leaving until ready for the abattoir. All our seafood is as local as can be, with langoustines, lobsters, and crab landed in Argyll.

We use refillable pump dispensers in our main house lavatories, reducing plastic bottles to landfill by 97%. We have 90% low energy light bulbs and radiators with thermostatic valves, as well as light sensors in many areas. Toilet cisterns are replaced with smaller dual flush cisterns. Old linen is recycled or goes  into a charity textile bin at Kilninver School. Towels are used in the kitchen or for cleaning. Kitchen vegetable waste is recycled to our own compost pens.

Look out for our bat box in the woods. We had to re-house a colony of bats there after a storm blew their previous home away! They are happily settled now. We engage local tradesmen for our building work and restoration projects and we recently installed our first E-car charge point.

Images ©Loch Melfort Hotel

Central Region

We now have a fully recyclable glass bottle, and isn’t it beautiful!

At the start of the COVID­­-19 outbreak, there was a national shortage of hand sanitiser, we wanted to do our part to help the community. We started to produce sanitiser and took the conscious decision not to sell it to anyone, this was a donation, we felt that in times like these no one should be profiteering.

Image ©McQueen Gin

Pitlochry Festival Theatre is a not-for-profit theatre. We are committed to helping to reduce the impact of our activities on the environment by using recycled products wherever possible, minimising litter onsite and reusing as much of our waste as possible. We also recycle the materials used to create our stage sets.

Image ©Visit Scotland

We are fully committed to selling produce from local and Scottish suppliers. Our location, to the south of the Sidlaw Hills, serves up a plentiful bounty of nature’s larder.  From our famous Rooster potatoes to the juiciest berries from the Carse of Gowrie , we pick and choose only the finest in season fruit and vegetables and offer them directly to you.

Every product is tried and tested to make sure it meets our high standards – after all we want you to love our products as much as we do.

So if you’re looking for a farm shop that really shouts about great local produce, and great personal service with a smile – then you’ve come to the right place.

Photo of Pitlochry hydro dam

As part of the SSE group we are committed to being a sustainable, responsible and environmentally friendly organisation. We are proud to have been awarded a Green Tourism gold award! Come and see us soon.

Image ©Visit Scotland

Edinburgh & The Lothians Region

Old traditions die hard. Here at Bloodline Spirits we are following in the footsteps of our forebear Andrew Usher and his descendants. He was a lover of the arts and gifted Edinburgh the sum of £100,000 to erect a great hall for music, theatre and performances to be held. Although Andrew sadly died before its completion in 1914, the impressive Usher Hall remains one of Edinburgh’s main venues for the arts today. His brother John meanwhile helped establish and fund the John Usher Institute of Public Health at the University of Edinburgh. For this generosity, he was made a baronet in 1899.

The family continued to make vast donations to local hospitals and charities. Sir John’s son, Robert, the second baronet, purchased Hallrule House near Jedburgh, so named from the River Rule that runs through the estate. The name lives on in our Rule Gin

Image ©Rule Gin

OUR NEW ‘BRIDGE TO HOME’ SERVICE IS BACK

We are using suppliers, such as Shaws Fine Meats, I. J Mellis cheese,  bread from Breadwinner Bakery,  fish from Welch’s Fishmonger.

Our  ‘B to Home’ service is a way for us to work with our suppliers and the community to provide a ‘shop’ and to reduce the amount of trips made by you to the supermarket.

Image ©The Bridge Inn at Ratho

Secret Garden Gin image for COP26 Glasgow

Our labels are 30% grass and 70% FSC-certified virgin pulp. Manufactured without chemicals, they require 97% less energy and 99% less water. This results in 75% CO2 savings. Our glass bottles are widely recycled. We use biodegradable viscose shrink bands to seal our bottles. Our shipping materials are paper which is FSCS approved and recyclable.

In our garden we use no chemicals, pesticides, or herbicides. It is completely sustainable as well as self-sufficient. This is also known as permaculture.  

All the botanicals in our gardens are hand-harvested, this helps reduce our carbon footprint. When soil is ploughed, it releases trapped carbon, therefore we limit digging in our gardens, so not only are we keeping the trapped carbon in the soil, but we are also actually capturing more. We use completely organic compost, so no chemicals touch our soil.

In the garden, we limit our plastic consumption to only using recyclable plastic pots and offering discounts when these are returned. We have planted over 8,500 trees and juniper which encourages wildlife, carbon capture and soil health.

Since the start of our journey in 2012, we have always had bees at the centre of everything we do from bee keeping courses, educating school children, and harvesting our honey from our hives. Liberty, our co-founder, is also a trained beekeeper and looks after our 30+ on-site hives.

Images ©Secret Garden Distillery

COP26 Glasgow Red Admiral Gin image

The Red Admiral Gin is made from start to finish by hand, bottled and labelled in East Lothian by Bob, our Head Distiller, and the rest of the team. 

We also work with a network of Social Enterprises around the country to help put together the final part of the packaging process and to send to our customers.

Butterflies are a symbol of conservation and our hand drawn images on the labels are as a tribute to the Naturalist John Muir who was from East Lothian. He was the father of National Parks in America and an early founder of the conservation movement.

Soon, we will be adding a little sachet of Wildflower Seeds onto our bottles so we can plant these at home to encourage the activity of Butterflies, Bees and other pollinators.

Image ©Edinburgh Preserves

Glasgow & The Clyde Region

Cumbrae Distillers image for COP26 Glasgow

T

As Isle of Cumbrae Distillers prospers, an indicator of our success will be our ability to create employment and training opportunities for our young people in Millport;  employment is one of the biggest challenges that hinders Scottish island development and sustainability. In the buildout of the company, we also plan to engage with business and tourism schools at Scottish colleges and universities,  to provide internships for students interested in future opportunities in the distilling business.

We are proudly committed to sustainability and to ensuring our products and packaging are chosen deliberately and responsibly. As members of the island’s beach clean team, we know first-hand the impact that plastic has on our beaches and wildlife and are committed to conducting our business in a socially responsible and ethical manner, protecting the environment and benefiting the community.

Image ©Isle of Cumbrae Distillers

COP26 Glasgow image for Glasgow Gin

At Glasgow Gin, we regularly receive requests for sponsorship and products to be raffled off for charity.  While we know every cause is worthy, it’s simply not possible to help everyone. So instead, we’ve chosen to support a single charity that’s close to our hearts – Guide Dogs Scotland.

We know you’ll understand that by focusing our efforts on just one cause, our donations will have a more significant impact. That’s why we’re supporting the charity’s puppy scheme, helping them to train a dog and transform the life of someone living with sight loss.

Our puppy, named Duke (what else!), was born on 1st December 2020 along with his siblings Gorby, Jamie, Ludo, Theo, Bill, Sylvia, Lucy, Hazel and Marnie.

Image ©Glasgow Gin

Pentland Hills Gin image for COP26 Glasgow

It’s all about a bit of give and take…

Where we can we will grow our own botanicals, we will use water that rises on our land and power the systems that we use through our solar and other renewable power supplies.

The amount of juniper trees to be found in Scotland has been reducing over time and since 2015 has been struck by a pathogen which often causes the death of the tree. We have begun to replant our land with juniper trees with the aim to provide a sustainable supply of juniper berries to go into our gin.

Our aim is to use, or reuse much of the gin making material as possible, for example the tails of the distillation process is used to make soap. We also intend to offer a service where you can return your empty etched bottle to us (along with the packaging) and we will return it to you refilled with our gin!

Image ©Pentland Hills Gin

COP26 Glasgow image of Shoogle Gin

The community we work and live in motivates and inspires us, reinforcing our sense of family and prompting us to consider the impact we have on the people and places around us.

Starting our life in a rural area gave us an appreciation for the environment around us and how it is affected by everything we do.

We’ve built Shoogle Spirits from the ground up to be as environmentally conscious as possible. Our glass bottles are sourced within the UK to limit transportation, our closures are natural wood and cork, and our packaging is all fully biodegradable. Used botanicals are composted for use in growing herbs in our home garden and we recycle water used in production as much as we reasonably can. We’ve even switched to an electric vehicle to help us in our mission to be carbon neutral.

We recognise though that there are some things we have little control over or cannot reduce our impact any further. This is why we’ve worked with a third-party organisation to help us gain our carbon neutral credentials, sponsoring projects and initiatives that look at reforestation and environmental restoration the world over.  We are proud that Shoogle Gin is carbon neutral, and think it tastes even better as a result.

Image ©Shoogle Gin

North East Region

Balmoral Castle image for COP26 Glasgow

Balmoral Estate is committed to ensuring that it operates in a sustainable manner and has environmental policies in place, reducing its impact on the environment wherever possible and ensuring that the estate is maintained for all generations to enjoy.

Image ©Visit Scotland

COP26 Glasgow Walter Gregors image

We take our responsibility to the environment seriously. The prospect of adding more bubble wrap to landfill discouranged us from venturing into online deliveries. So we have thought out of the box, about the box.  Working in conjunction with our cardboard packaging supplier, we have developed our innovative delivery solution which holds our small glass bottles securely in place during transit.  This packaging is made from 100% cardboard and fully recyclable through kerbside collections. At the very least, it performs just as well as bubble wrap and for us, it is a game changer.

This philosophy stems from our approach that as farmers, we are custodians of the countryside. It is our responsibility to leave the countryside we farm in a condition fit for future generations.

Here on the farm where we are based, we work closely with the RSPB to maintain and improve the habitat for our large population of Corn Buntings. This is a small, native bird which nests on the ground whose numbers across the UK have been under pressure for a number of years. Through maintaining traditional farming practices, we host one of the largest populations of Corn Buntings in the UK.

Image ©Walter Gregor’s Tonic Water

Skye & The Western Isles Region

Barra Gin for COP26 Glasgow

SMALLEST CARBON FOOTPRINT

Our shipments leave only a small carbon footprint throughout its extensive journey from us to you. We utilise existing methods of public transport links to send our gin to the mainland and beyond.

Image ©Isle of Barra Distillers Ltd

COP26 Glasgow image of Misty Isle Gin

All Misty Isle bottles are made from glass and are recyclable. We check every bottle of Misty Isle before it leaves our distillery to ensure the highest quality.  Our shipping cases are fully recyclable. We utilise existing methods of mail delivery to reduce our carbon impact when dispatching orders. 

 Solar panels help power our distillery and we planted 50 juniper trees in our distillery grounds to help with our carbon reduction. 

We strive to use as many local and small businesses.  From printers to packaging suppliers. We stock various local and Scottish goods in our Island Shop as well as a varied collection of other Scottish spirits. 

Tommy’s Gin was created in memory of our late father Tommy Wilson.  Tommy served in the British Army during the Suez Crisis.  We take great pride in distilling Tommy’s Gin and with every bottle of Tommy’s Gin sold, we donate to local Military Charities.

Image ©Isle of Sky Distillers

Southern Scotland Region

COP26 Glasgow image of Selkirk Gin

Jane, in our team, has actively supported a variety of charities in the past, including taking part in the Moonwalk, volunteering to help the homeless, and helping with AIDS awareness projects.  The support she herself has received from the MS Society since her diagnosis made her determined to fundraise for them too.  This is how the 1953 MS Gin was born.  The 1953 is not only a truly unique and aromatic gin, the sale of each bottle contributes £10 to the MS society. 

Image ©Selkirk Distillers

COP26 Glasgow image of Kerr's Gin

We’re proud to be a zero waste distillery with all the organic by-product from distillation going to two local farms where it is used to grow plants (including some delicious tomatoes!). The organic by-product from those two farms goes back in turn to the barley fields – making for a circular economy within Borders farming with the distillery at its centre.

For the water which goes into the spirit, we draw from an underground lake deep beneath the site. The lake’s water takes between 50 and 70 years to filter down from the hills through the rock. Even if it never rained again (unlikely in the Borders!) the lake contains enough pure water to last the distillery for thousands of years.

Right outside our front door, the River Teviot offers a sustainable source of fast-flowing water – perfect for cooling the spirit as it comes from the stills, an important stage of the production process.