Leading Canadian whiskey producer Crown Royal says it’s constructing a new carbon-neutral distillery in Ontario as part of its bid to become more sustainable.
The spirits industry is increasing its efforts to reduce emissions and support sustainability. France’s wine-producing regions are working to convert all operations to organic or sustainably certified. Academy Award winner Leonardo DiCaprio recently invested in a sustainable Champagne brand, Telmont. And Maker’s Mark recently earned B Corp status for its family-run bourbon operations committed to sustainable and social efforts.
Crown Royal, the number one selling Canadian whisky brand in the world, is now taking a big step forward as the latest spirits brand to increase its sustainability commitments with the announcement of a $245 million (CAD) distillery that will be carbon neutral. The distillery will be capable of producing more than 20 million liters of absolute alcohol, the equivalent of 10.5 million proof gallons, per year.
“Crown Royal is the heart of our whisk(e)y business, as the most valuable whisky brand. It’s critical when we extend our footprint, that we are committed to creating a more sustainable world,” said Sophie Kelly, Senior Vice President of Whiskies, Diageo North America. “We are thrilled by this new world-class distillery. It will enable us to drive momentum to 2030 and beyond to elevate Crown Royal as a best-in-class whisky brand that leads innovation in the industry.”
Diageo’s sustainability action plan
The move is part of parent company Diageo’s sustainability action plan, Society 2030: Spirits of Progress, which it says will shape the design and development of the distillery. Plans include operating on 100 percent renewable energy, and a zero-waste-to-landfill system for all of its direct operations.
“The planet needs significant science-based action to create a sustainable low-carbon future, so we commit to decarbonising our own operations by 2030 and partnering with our suppliers to halve the carbon in our supply chain,” reads the action plan.
Diageo says it will reach net-zero carbon across all operations by 2030, noting that it’s already reduced its emissions by half. The global alcohol leader says it will also partner with its suppliers on renewable energy solutions, circular designed products, and regenerative agriculture “to halve the carbon in our supply chain by 2030, helping [suppliers] move towards net-zero carbon emissions.”
Working off of science-based targets to meet its low-carbon goals, Diageo is a member of the United Nations Global Compact and the We Mean Business Coalition. It has also signed on to the Race to Zero campaign, which is a commitment to net-zero emissions by 2050l.
“A low-carbon world is essential for a sustainable future, so I am thrilled to announce our first carbon neutral distillery in Canada as we continue to build momentum in our journey to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2030,” Perry Jones, President, North America Supply for Diageo, said in a statement. “We celebrate such a significant milestone for our Crown Royal brand, our North American operations and global footprint.”
Diageo says it’s also transitioning its Quebec manufacturing site to be carbon neutral by 2025. Its first carbon-neutral whiskey distillery opened last year in Lebanon, Kentucky, for Diego’s Bulleit Bourbon brand.
In Scotland, its achieved carbon neutrality for three distilleries: Brora, Royal Lochnagar, and Oban. The company says it is also building a carbon-neutral distillery in China. That project will produce Diageo’s first China-origin single malt whisky at a distillery in Yunnan that the company says was “carefully selected” for its temperate climate, natural biodiversity, and access to natural spring water.
“The natural surroundings and the Eryuan landscape will allow us to craft a world-class, China-origin, single malt whisky that will capture the imagination of premium whisky lovers in China,” said Sam Fischer, President, Diageo Asia Pacific and Global Travel.
The Yunnan distillery will feature renewable and clean technologies, water recycling, and zero-waste efforts as well as a sustainably designed visitor center that embraces the region’s natural landscape.
Diageo’s portfolio includes some of the biggest names in spirits such as Johnnie Walker, Smirnoff, Ketel One, Captain Morgan, Baileys, Tanqueray, and Irish beer brand, Guinness.
Guinness has been making strides to green its operations, too. Most recently it announced plans to work with suppliers employing regenerative agriculture methods. It will partner with 40 barley farms in Ireland for a three-year pilot project.
“This extensive, three-year farm-based programme intends to highlight opportunities for reducing the carbon emissions of barley production,” Guinness said, adding that it hopes to achieve “improvements in soil health and its carbon sequestration potential.”
Construction on the new Crown Royal distillery is expected to begin later this year to be operational by 2025.