There is often a disconnect in the spirits industry regarding the origin of the product – for both the consumer and the distilleries crafting their particular spirit. Often times, distilleries purchase their ingredients, be they wheat, corn, barley or whatever a distiller uses to make their particular spirit, through middlemen who work to supply these ingredients through a complex supply chain, with the end result being that the people crafting their vodka, whiskey, gin or rum have no connection of their own to the actual farm that supplies their ingredients.
Tracing origins becomes a little easier when distillers are working with ingredients like fruits, vegetables, grapes, sugarcane, and agave, as they usually work closely with their grower/suppliers to make sure the quality of the ingredients is to their liking.
All that said, sustainability still presents a quandary for those environmentally conscious folks in the spirits business who want to do their part to help stave off things like climate change and global warming, and preserve the world for future generations. It also means they have to get creative in how the approach sustainability in distilling. Here are a few examples of how certain well-known distilleries are tackling the subject.
Citadelle Gin and West Indies Rum Distillery.
Owned by Maison Ferrand, a storied producer of Cognac, who, by the way, farms their vineyards organically and is HVE (high environmental value) certified, it should come as no surprise that respecting the environment and favoring local products is a priority for Citadelle Gin. Opposite the Château de Bonbonnet, home of Citadelle and its new distillery, 2,500 juniper trees have been planted on nine hectares (about 23 acres). Cultivated using 100% natural methods, the trees are in the process of being certified organic.
Just like the juniper berries these trees produce, lemons play a vital role in the Citadelle recipe. With the goal of self-sufficiency, Citadelle’s founder, Alexandre Gabriel, is designing a greenhouse next-door to the distillery where lemon trees will grow in the local soil. This spacious greenhouse, with its huge windows, will be heated thanks to an ingenious system that repurposes the heat generated by the stills during operation.
The Citadelle Gin portfolio includes: Original (44% ABV; SRP $25), Jardin d’été (41.5% ABV; SRP $25) and Reserve (45.2%, SRP $50). Homepage – Citadelle (citadellegin.com)
Also in the Ferrand stable, the West Indies Rum Distillery, where the House of Ferrand produces the initial distillates for its Plantation Rum line, is the first distillery in the Caribbean and Barbados to obtain the Bonscuro’s Chain of Custody (ChoC) certification. Bonscuro is a non-profit organization that aims to promote sustainable sugar cane production, processing, and trade around the world. Additionally, the distillery has invested in a million-dollar solar plant aimed at reducing the impact of its carbon footprint on the island, with the ultimate goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2030. www.plantationrum.com
El Tesoro Tequila.
Led by Tequila master, Carlos Camarena, El Tesoro launched the Bat Friendly Tequila and Mezcal Project in 2016, with the goal to protect the one specific species of blue agave used to make tequila through cross-pollination via endangered species of bats: the bats fly to the agave flowering plants, take their nectar, bring genetics from other species of agave to add genetic diversity to the seeds. 6,000 agave plants were planted in 2020 in the greenhouse at La Alteña distillery to be transported to the fields and tests have been run on the new agave plants and they have succeeded in creating genetic diversity.
Additionally, all of El Tesoro’s organic waste—the pencas that are cut off the agaves, the weeds that grow during the rainy season, the pulp from the cooked agave—goes into compost. The water they use in production gets recycled, and they use all-natural herbicides and fertilizers as well as biologic pest control.
El Tesoro is a truly authentic tequila made slowly and carefully to capture the agave’s essence in a bottle. The El Tesoro portfolio of core products available in the U.S. includes: Blanco (40% ABV; SRP $45), Reposado (40% ABV; SRP $50), Añejo (40% ABV; SRP $55) and Paradiso (Extra Añejo; 40% ABV; SRP $130). Premium Tequila – Traditional, Artisan Made | El Tesoro™ (eltesorotequila.com)