Suntory Global Spirits restores Islay peatlands

Suntory Global Spirits restores Islay peatlands

The drinks company has partnered with RSPB Scotland to restore 80 hectares of peatland on the Oa, Islay

News | 10 Jul 2024

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Suntory Global Spirits (which recently rebranded from Beam Suntory) has partnered with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) Scotland for a peatland restoration project. This a continuation of the company’s work with RSPB Scotland, after an Airds Moss project in 2022.


Under the current partnership, Suntory Global Spirits and the RSPB Scotland have restored 80 hectares of peatland at the Oa reserve on Islay. The work falls under Suntory Global Spirits’ Peatland Water Sanctuary programme, which it launched in 2021. The drinks company has also contributed £250,000 to revive the peatlands’ natural ecosystem.


Alistair Longwell, head of distillation & environment, Suntory Global Spirits, commented: “The restoration at the Oa is not only integral to sustaining its resilience to climate change, but also in promoting a protected nature reserve on our special island of Islay, home to our Laphroaig and Bowmore distilleries and a thriving local community.”


Jack Fleming, RSPB Scotland area manager for Argyll, Arran, and Ardnamurchan, added: “We’re thrilled to have taken this latest step in our partnership with Suntory Global Spirits. As well as trapping carbon, healthy peatlands provide homes for iconic wildlife such as curlews and hen harriers. They are among the most effective tools we have for tackling the nature and climate crisis, so to have restored 80 hectares at the Oa, on top of the previous work at Airds Moss [in 2022], is an achievement well worth raising a glass to.”


Several distilleries and drinks companies have partnered with the RSPB in recent years on peatland restoration projects, including Johnnie Walker, Lagavulin, and Edrington. 

David Wood, RSPB site manager, on the Oa

The work follows Suntory Global Spirits’ announcement earlier this year of its partnership with Northern Peat & Moss to restore the peatland on Craigculter Moss in Aberdeenshire. The project is now underway at the 60-hectare site, with the goal of restoring peat and vegetation, reducing the rate of erosion, and increasing water retention and distribution across the site.  


Protecting and restoring peat is part of the Scotch Whisky Association’s (SWA) sustainability strategy, which also included a commitment to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2040. Anna Graham, head of environment, science, and innovation, SWA, said: “Peatland restoration is a key pillar at the heart of the industry’s Commitment to Responsible Peat Use, and is crucial in ensuring the longer-term sustainability of what is a precious resource, not just for our sector but for its wider role in supporting climate change resilience.”


Suntory Global Spirits recently made strides toward sustainability in other areas, with a successful trial of hydrogen-powered distilling at the Yamazaki Distillery in Japan. 

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