Sustainable Distilling

This article originally ran in May 2008 on Best of the Green Web.

The world is going green and the cocktail world is no exception.

Bartenders the world over are experimenting with locally grown, organic ingredients to showcase their craft. Distilleries are getting into the game as well, with organic product popping up in stores and bars everywhere. These socially conscious producers are also using new methods to distill, package and distribute their product in a more sustainable manner.

New brands and old have been recreating the distilling process, I’ve collected a few notable brands worth exploring:

Reyka Vodka, from Iceland, utilizes geothermal heat, which is a sustainable and clean energy source, in it’s distillation. The still is geothermally-powered by steam produced from molten lava rock near the earth’s surface. (http://www.reykavodka.com)

Modern Spirits TRU, from California, an organic wheat vodka uses a new single column distilling technique that saves energy and produces an extremely pure spirit. Their bottles contain 25% less glass; labels are made from corn and printed with soy based inks; recyclable synthetic corks; shipping boxes made from post consumer waste and close with out packing tape; and marketing materials are made from recycled stock. The company also plant a tree for every bottle sold, working with companies like Sustainable Harvest International.

360 Vodka, from McCormick’s, is made from grains grown nearby the distillery, thus reducing emissions. It is column distilled, which consumes 200% less energy than the traditional pot still method. The packaging, the paper for labels, the bottles, the shipping boxes, everything, comes from recycled material. It is all biodegradable, further reducing your drinking footprint. McCormick’s also takes back and recycles the bottle enclosures (a prepaid envelope comes with every bottle) and donate $1 to environmental groups. more (http://www.drinkoftheweek.com/blog/360-vodka/)

Square One Vodka is produced in a distillery that gets 25% of its energy from a wind farm. The left over rye mash is packaged and then sold as organic feed to diary farmers. Square One even purchased carbon credits to offset travel of company employees. Square One (http://www.squareonevodka.com/)

Veev, a sustainable Acai Spirit is 100% natural and is made from an efficient distillation process. It is produced at the only distiller in America to get at least 25% of is power from wind; yes they produce Square One as well. Veev is very much a sustainable company and donates a portion of each sale to groups like the Sustainable Acai Project and the Rainforest Action Network. Veev Sustainable Acai Spirit (http://www.drinkoftheweek.com/blog/veev-susutainable-acai-spirit/)

Even the big guys, such as Absolut are going green game. Absolut is donating $1 for each “Global Cooling Code” redeemed to your choice of three environmental charities. (http://www.drinkoftheweek.com/blog/absolut-global-cooling/)

Enjoy these responsibly and feel good about doing you part to green the planet.

Update 2011
The green trend continues with distillers incorporating earth and money saving techniques into their every day business. Moon Mountain and Finlandia are great examples of large distilleries investing in sustainable distilling practices.

Got a favorite organic spirit? Tell us about is in the comments …

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