The lowland home of Johnnie Walker, Glenkinchie Distillery, has announced the achievement of Scotland’s most prestigious Green Tourism gold award.
As part of Diageo’s network of distillery visitor attractions in Scotland, and its £185m investment in Scotland and Scotch whisky, this is the first major step for the distillery on the road to creating an environmentally sustainable visitor experience.
The Green Tourism certification programme is providing distilleries like Glenkinchie with an achievable framework to reach sustainable tourism targets, while also recognising the commitment it takes through a tiered system of bronze, silver and gold awards.
The distillery, which is based close to Edinburgh, received the top certification due to its high scores across the broad assessment criteria: management, water and energy usage, waste, nature conservation, and travel. The award also recognises the distillery’s green operating credentials, from zero-waste to landfill, to the sustainability of its distillation process and the high standards of water efficiency and stewardship.
As part of this work, Glenkinchie has been working on a nature sustainability strategy with the aim of encouraging pollination and protecting wildlife in the local area. This project includes the installation of beehives, bat houses, bug boxes, and plantings which should attract, feed, and shelter wildlife.
Ramsay Borthwick, senior site manager at the distillery, said: “Sustainability has always been at the heart of Glenkinchie, from the way we make our whisky to the way our visitors enjoy our experience, and we’re thrilled that our efforts are being recognised with this Green Tourism Gold certification.
“We call Glenkinchie ‘The Garden Distillery’ because we’re heavily influenced by the incredible land and greenery surrounding us. Being in the midst of East Lothian’s abundant lands, full of wild flowers and fragrant grass, has not only made us appreciative of our local environments but also passionate about preserving the natural wonders that inspire our whisky. That’s why our sustainability initiative is so important to us. We hope the methods we have put in place will make a real difference to our environmental impact and we look forward to improving this year on year.”
Andrea Nicholas, chief executive at Green Tourism, said: “We are very impressed with the commitment of Diageo to ensure all their distilleries achieve the highest standard of sustainability. This is especially evident in the refurbishment of Glenkinchie which has included significant investment in green building techniques and features.
“Their consistent approach and framework has made the assessment process very smooth and is one of the best systems we have ever seen. We are really looking forward to working with their other distilleries in the near future.”
Barbara Smith, managing director of Diageo Brand Homes, said: “We are extremely proud of the team at Glenkinchie for delivering this incredible achievement.
“We are grateful to Green Tourism for awarding Glenkinchie Distillery with the Gold certification and look forward to achieving similar status for the remainder of our Scotch whisky distilleries.”
Glenkinchie Distillery is set to reopen its doors next month after undergoing a major redesign as part of Diageo’s investment to transform its Scotch whisky visitor experience. The investment also includes the opening of the state-of-the-art Johnnie Walker visitor attraction in Edinburgh and the revival of the iconic distilleries of Port Ellen and Brora.