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Can Drinking Alcohol be Sustainable?
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Tips from Our Journey to Curating an Eco Spirits Shelf for the Boiler House Bar

These days, many of us are choosing to drink less or abstaining completely from alcohol consumption, and we tip our hats to that and salute the honouring of a conscious way of life. On the other hand, responsible drinking doesn’t have to mean the harmful and unsustainable production processes of the past… So, if you are someone who likes to keep a bottle of swanky liquor in the freezer, or delights in having some merry-inducing beverages in your cabinet, here’s a few products that will help make your merriment healthier and more sustainable! 

When curating our speciality spirits shelf at The Boiler House bar we wanted to go the extra mile and find the most awesomely sustainable spirits on the market that can be enjoyed by all alcohol-loving eco-warriors. These alcohol industry players are doing their bit to save the Planet, and we commend them for it.

Here’s what we discovered…

Fatty’s Organic Gin

Fatty’s Organic Gin will make you a five star sustainable organic cocktail: all ingredients are free from pesticides, fertilisers and approved by the Soil Association. This company has taken the process very seriously, so their packaging is also kind to the environment: they use organic inks sprays on their bottles, employ cork closures and seal with wax (by hand!). Cork is one of the most sustainable materials on the market: it is completely biodegradable and it doesn’t warrant trees being cut down, as the cork is peeled from the trees by skilled harvesters.

Waste to Wasted

Waste to Wasted are not wasting any time at all and are recycling Coca Cola plastic labels that were washed up on Dutch beaches from the North Sea to make their bottle lids. We are somewhat obsessed with the beauty of these bottles… Made from recycled glass, of course.

Their motto is: “Drink responsibly, save our oceans.”

Ilegal Mezcal

Ilegal is a doubly-distilled, rich, artisanal mezcal produced sustainably in small batches in the Tlacolula Valley of Oaxaca, Mexico using only perfectly ripe Espadín agave. Each bottle is hand corked, labelled, and numbered. What’s most remarkable is its origin: founder John Rexer used to smuggle these bottles from the Southern border of Mexico all the way down to his bar in Antigua, Guatemala. This, and the fact that the company has created employment for many workers in the South of Mexico who had family members living illegally in the States, is the reason behind the name. 

Their motto is: “We believe that at the door of your business, your values should be exemplified and defended.” 

Ncn’ean Botanical Spirit

There’s a beacon of a closed-loop sustainable economy located on the West Coast of Scotland: Ncn’ean’s farm distillery runs entirely on renewable energy! Leftover grain goes to feeding the cows, all the waste products are used in the fields as fertilizer and wood chips from forests nearby go straight to the biomass boiler.
Officially, their whisky is due to launch in 2020, but they’ve created a botanical spirit for those eager to try the fruit of their efforts. Ncn’ean Botanical Spirit tastes something in between a whisky and a gin, infused with typically Scottish herbs, like sorrel, bog myrtle and heather. Perfect with tonics and bitters.

Black Cow Vodka

They say there’s a fine line between genius and madness, and Black Cow managed to walk it all the way. These inventive human beings based in Dorset, South West England, produce their Pure Milk Vodka™ vodka reutilizing leftover milk produced from grass-grazed cows. The whey is used to produce cheese, whilst the milk has the necessary sugar in it so that, once fermented, it’s turned into a milky beer. The beer is then distilled using a secret method et voilá… a distinguishingly creamy vodka. You couldn’t make it up!

Alquimia Añejo

Alquimia Anejo is the labour of love of an optometrist-turned-tequila-master, Dr Murillo, in the North-Eastern state of Jalisco. It has won numerous awards and is considered to be the best tequila in the world, yet everyone thought Dr Murillo had gone mad when he decided to return to his family roots and abandon his fruitful medicine career to grow Agave. But he held in his mind his grandfather’s recommendationTake care of the earth, and she will take care of you. By alchemizing his ancestor’s ancient knowledge with modern science, Murillo devised an innovative organic protocol which transformed the cultivation of agave forever, educating hundreds of farmers to become more sustainable in the process. His secret method allows the plants to grow bigger and stronger whilst being devoid of toxic pesticides, fertilizers, herbicides, fungicides, or any other artificial substances. All organic waste is either reused to fertilize the next crop, or composted, and their elegant-looking bottles are made from recycled glass. Ándale!

Ramsbury Gin

Ramsbury Gin tastes like a classic London dry gin, but unlike its classic competitors, it comes from 100% closed-loop production process: waste and byproducts are reutilised on the farm in Wiltshire that produces it.
The farm’s cattle and pigs are fed with wheat leftovers from their production cycle, and an on-site borehole provides the distillery’s water, which is then returned through filtration beds to aid wheat cultivation. This gin, produced in very small batches in South London, has all-round certifications for its ingredients, which are 100% organic, and pesticide, GMO and fertilizer-free. 

Copalli White Rum

Copalli won the Gold medal at the 2019 Annual New York Spirits competition, and definitely deserved it! It secret lays in the old age saying “less is more”’s made from just three, completely natural ingredients:  filtered rainforest canopy water, yeast and organic sugar cane. Grown on the distillery’s farm in Southern Belize with no added molasses, chemicals, flavourings or colours… as natural as it gets!
The amount of care that goes into the production of this Spirit is exemplary: the have a biomass-powered distillery, their solid waste is reused in farming, they have probiotic ponds that neutralise pollutants coming from their water wastage, avoiding any harm to the surrounding ecosystem. The company provides educational grants to schoolchildren and the distillery, the farm and the eco-lodge pride themselves for being South Belize’s biggest employer.
Copalli is a White rum, but they use recycled American Oak bourbon barrels for their “barrel-aged option”, which is a slightly richer rum with notes of vanilla, giving a mojito that extra-special kick!
Shipping to the UK does obviously produce a certain level of carbon footprint, but our green tastebuds are reassured about the fact that Copalli is sustainable in just about every other way.

Republic Tequila

Take your homemade margaritas and mojitos to the next level, with some vibrant Republic Tequila crafted in small batches on the edge of a volcano in the central lowlands of México. After the extraction, the remaining pulp from agave juice is recycled, producing steam that powers the entire distillery operation. The resulting ash is then re-employed by local farmers as a fertilizer for the fields where the next generation of agave will grow. Excelente!

Honeybee Gin by Warner’s

*We believe in a plant-based diet; however, we also believe in supporting endangered species, and we found Warner’s efforts in doing so whilst also running their business exemplary*

Warner’s partnered with the UK’s national gardening charity, the Royal Horticultural Society, to protect one of the most valuable and endangered animal species on the planet: the bees!  They do so by empowering and educating customers. Each bottle includes a packet of wildflower seeds, which customers are encouraged to plant, as wildflowers help maintain the local pollinator populations. Honeybee Gin craft their gins with 28 different flowers, use honey produced by their own beehives and donate a percentage of the proceeds from each bottle to pollinator projects. Warner’s engage with local landowners in conservation initiatives and have sown 5 acres of wildflower meadows in Northamptonshire in the last year.
Their motto is: “Re-sow, Replant, Rebuild.

Chin Chin! Salut! Now you can drink with a guilt-free conscience… Save one for us x

Some of these ideas here were inspired by Clare Vooght.

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20 / 09 / 2019 // Written by Sylvia Helen Goodrick
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