Whiskey Waste Turned Into Watts: A Scottish Distillery Discovers New Way to be More Sustainable
The independently owned Scottish distillery, Bruichladdich, is better known for their traditional methods of producing their Single Malt Whiskey as it was in 1881. This month, however, the distillery is integrating a new bio-gas generator that will begin turning their whiskey sludge waste into green energy. This new technology will not only secure their energy problems, but will also save the company up to £120,000 ($175,000) every year.
Located on the island of Islay, the art of distilling, at Bruichladdich, is still connected to its agricultural roots, with organic and heritage barleys grown on selected farms for ultimate individuality. The owner, Mark Reynier, commented on the production process, saying, “Our waste product is basically water left over after you’ve stripped all the alcohol out. It’s called, rather unromantically, pot ale.” Several hundred thousand liters of “pot ale” waste are transferred and dumped into the Sound of Islay, each year. Disposing this waste is extremely costly for the distillery, which has led Reynier to rethink its energy use and consider anaerobic digestion as an alternative to generate biomass.
Anaerobic digestion occurs when natural food stuffs decompose in the absence of oxygen, which creates methane as the end product. Reynier says this will be fed into the generator and converted into green electricity; with the only by-product being water. If Bruichladdich’s biogas trial succeeds, then the pot ale that was previously dumped into the sea will instead be continuously fed into the digester creating energy and cutting down costs for the distillery. Seven other distilleries on the island — Ardbeg, Laphroaig, Lagavulin, Bowmore, Caol Ila, Bunnahabhain and Kilchoman — are understood to be considering similar schemes.
So, the next time you get ready to take a swig of whiskey, I hope that you will think about this post concerning the creation of renewable energy from the Scottish “water of life.”