Sunday, March 3, 2024

11 Sustainable Spirits Brands So You Can Drink Responsibly In More Ways Than One


From ocean-infused whiskey to botanical gin, raise a glass to these sustainable liquor brands.

Whether you prefer a dirty martini (shaken, not stirred) or a classic gin and tonic, your favorite alcoholic beverage may be great for helping you wind down after a long day — but is it good for the planet? From spirits’ distillation process down to the glass containers they’re packaged in, your evening nightcap’s environmental footprint could be anything but responsible. Worry not, we’ve rounded up some of the best eco-friendly liquor brands to help you sip sustainably. Cheers! 

What makes a liquor brand sustainable?

Not all spirits are created equally. The process of making a single 750-milliliter bottle of alcohol is responsible for generating 6.5 pounds of carbon dioxide, according to the Beverage Industry Environmental Roundtable (BIER). This equates to a little more than seven miles driven in a gas-powered car.

As consumers increasingly make their desire for sustainable products known, a growing number of distilleries are working to mitigate their environmental impact. These companies are making sustainability a focal point of their corporate social responsibility — turning to renewable sources of energy, reducing waste, reusing and recycling, and using innovative techniques to minimize their impact on the planet.

Air Vodka is made from CO2
Courtesy Air Company

Case in point: Air Vodka. Dubbed the “world’s first” carbon-negative spirit, the New York-based technology brand Air Company makes its vodka straight out of thin air — literally. Founded in 2017, Air Company creates ethanol directly from carbon dioxide using innovative carbon utilization technology. Hand-bottled in Brooklyn, the sustainable drink also features a 100 percent biodegradable label made with vegetable ink and is contained in recyclable bottles and boxes.

“We work with partners that capture that carbon dioxide before it’s emitted into the atmosphere, and then we use that CO2 in our process in creating the alcohols that we create,” Gregory Constantine, Air Company’s CEO and co-founder, told CNBC. “It’s obviously far better for the planet in that we’re removing CO2 for every bottle that we’re creating.”

Air Vodka isn’t the only eco-friendly spirit on the market. From gin and rum to scotch and whiskey — here are some of the best sustainable spirit brands on the market.

Sip sustainably with these eco-friendly spirits

From ocean-infused whiskey to botanical gin, raise a glass to these sustainable liquor brands.

Mount Gay Rum

1. Mount Gay Rum

Founded in 1703 in Barbados, the world’s oldest rum distillery knows a thing or two about sustainability. Just ask the company’s managing director, Raphaël Grisoni. “Sustainability is at the heart of everything we do,” he explained. “This is dominated by the fact that we are on a small island, so in everything you do, you feel an impact on the community, on the direct environment.” In addition to going carbon neutral by 2030, the company opts for solar energy and conserves water by collecting pond water in lieu of an irrigation system. 

Hyke Gin

2. Foxhole Spirits Hyke Gin

The U.K.-based liquor brand Foxhole Spirits is no stranger to churning out eco-friendly alcohol. Well-known for using natural and sustainable materials to craft its award-winning drinks, the company launched Hyke Gin on March 18, 2019, also known as Global Recycling Day. Produced in England, the premium gin is made using surplus table grapes that would otherwise go to waste. In total, the company is able to redirect about 1.4 million punnets (small baskets) of discarded grapes each year.

Bruichladdich Distillery's The Botanist Gin

3. Bruichladdich Distillery’s The Botanist Gin

Featuring tasting notes of cool mint and juniper, The Botanist Islay Dry Gin is a go-to as far as pairing with any tonic is concerned. Founded in 2011 in Scotland, Bruichladdich Distillery uses sustainably-sourced botanicals to craft its spirits, which are contained in 100 percent recyclable glass bottles. The company has numerous sustainability initiatives that can be categorized into four key pillars: Agriculture and Biodiversity, Packaging and Waste, Islay and Community, and Energy. In 2015, the company founded The Botanist Foundation to promote conservation on the island of Islay.

Purity Vodka

4. The Purity Distillery Purity Vodka

For sustainable vodka, look no further than Purity Vodka. This distillery relies on organic ingredients, such as organic wheat and malted barley, to craft its spirits, which omits the use of harmful chemicals. Purity also relies on renewable energy sources, such as wind farms, and has initiatives in place to minimize waste.

Umiki whisky

5. Yoshino Spirits Co. Umiki Whisky

The average distillery uses about 37 liters of water to produce one liter of alcohol — ten times the amount of water needed to make beer, according to BIER. Umiki Whisky takes being water intensive out of the equation by using ocean water, a renewable source, in its blending process. “The sustainable process of UMIKI gives an exceptional smoothness to our whisky with sea-breeze on the nose, rounded floral taste on the palate and a soothing freshness in the finish,” the company notes on its website.

dos hombres mezcal
Aaron Paul (l) and Bryan Cranston (r) | Courtesy Dos Hombres, Max Barsness

6. Dos Hombres’ Tobala Mezcal

From Aaron Paul and Bryan Cranston, the stars of Breaking Bad, comes Dos Hombres, a mezcal company committed to quality, sustainability, and community. In a partnership with mezcalero Gregorio Velasco, the agave in Dos Hombres is screened for criteria like soil quality and natural fertilizers. With its Tobala mezcal, the agave must mature in the wild for 25 years before harvesting. So for every one harvested, Dos Hombres plants two more. Those aren’t just for the label, they’re planted in the wild for anyone to use. The company is also working to improve the water quality in the community, using solar energy, and the founders are working with Oaxaca’s governor on new ways to support the region.

Maker's Mark

7. Maker’s Mark Wood Finishing Series

Recently certified as a B Corp, sustainability and community have been baked into the Kentucky bourbon brand Maker’s Mark for nearly 70 years. The family-operated company has counted environmental stewardship as a core focus for years. It operates its factory on renewable solar power, has a zero landfill initiative at its distillery, and runs the first recycling program in Marion County. It also created a sanctuary for the watershed at its Star Hill farm. Maker’s Mark is committed to small-batch bourbon, too. Its Wood Finishing Series is the fourth of its limited-release series. The oaky bourbon is spicy and woody and not around for long.


8. The Macallan Harmony Collection

While The Macallan’s commitment to quality and stewardship extends back nearly two centuries, it’s only recently begun talking about its efforts. The Scottish distillery is on track to hit its carbon neutrality goal by 2030 — a decade before the Scotch Whisky Association targets. Its recent Harmony Collection is inspired by cacao, bringing in notes of chocolate’s complex flavor profile. The box the whiskey is packaged in is made from chocolate husks otherwise sent to landfills.


9. Mezcal Amarás Espadin

The producers behind Mezcal Amarás are tackling deforestation with their mezcal. They plant two dozen agave varieties and are always thinking seven years out to anticipate harvesting cycles. The ‘From Seed to Sip” initiative returns up to 20 percent of net sales per bottle to developing social and environmental initiatives to further support the community, the sacred agave plants, and future-proof the region from challenges like climate change. The Espadin is fermented naturally in open-air vats, utilizing wild yeast native to the environment.


10. El Cristiano Extra Anejo Tequila

New to the tequila market, El Cristiano is already an award winner. The brand wants to make purity and quality synonymous. It’s tackling the issue of additives such as artificial colors and flavors along with sustainable harvesting. “We believe the premium tequila drinker has been searching for ultra-aged options that hold true varietal characteristics of the blue agave grown in the Jalisco region without additives,” El Cristiano founders said in a statement. The Añejo tequilas are more mature and complex, barrel-aged for at least 1-3 years. The flavor is robust and includes notes of bright orange, dried fruit, and toasted vanilla. It’s meant to be sipped like a fine scotch.

Waterford gaia whiskey

11. Waterford’s Gaia Single Malt Irish Whiskey

Ireland’s Waterford Distillery is reimagining the industry. It is the world’s largest producer of organic malt whiskey and launched its first biodynamic whiskey late last year. That commitment sees century-old biodynamic farming practices including fermenting manure, following the lunar calendar, and eschewing synthetic fertilizers and other chemicals. Distilled from organic barley, the single malt Gaia is Waterford’s personification of “Mother Earth herself,” and the distiller’s standard bearer for celebration.

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