While producing whiskey is an ambitious pursuit within itself, some whiskey makers are doing more to give something back to their local communities, and to the planet itself. From familiar whiskey brands to new distilleries you may not yet be aware of, whiskey makers worldwide are stepping up and doing their part to ensure that your whiskey experience goes much further than you might expect.
Ireland’s Clonakilty Distillery is committed to environmentally conscious methods of production through such practices as using their own naturally filtered water, supplying their own electricity, and working to eliminate plastic waste. In an article for The Irish Times, Denis O’Flynn of Clonakilty said, “We are one of the few distilleries to have Origin Green designation, and are part of CoolClon, the town’s plan to be the first sustainable town in the country.”
The Atlantic coast distillery is an avid supporter of local and international maritime charities and groups, lending their affiliation where it can best serve these organizations. One such example is their annual sponsorship of Whale and Dolphin Conservation, a non-profit organization committed to the worldwide protection and conservation of dolphins and whales. The use of the name ‘Minke’ on the bottles of Clonakilty’s range of vodka and gin, along with the whale tale artwork on every bottle, is meant as a tribute to the Minke whales known to visit the Clonakilty Bay.
Clonakilty Distillery regards the marine environment that surrounds their distillery as their source of inspiration for creating spirits as well as for their local and international environmental efforts. Ultimately, they’ve made the commitment that by 2025, through their use of heat reducing technology, they intend to “reduce energy consumption per liter produced by a minimum of 10%.”
Still Austin Whiskey Co. is an Austin, Texas based grain-to-glass distillery committed to sourcing their spirit-making ingredients from local, sustainable agriculture. Locally sourced grains including corn, rye, and barley are used to craft their base malts in-house. The whiskey expressions within Still Austin’s line-up are proofed and cut with pure Central Texas Hill Country water and their whiskey is aged in a Central Texas rickhouse in sustainably sourced barrels.
As Still Austin Whiskey Co. takes pride in the time and effort that goes into every bottle of their whiskey, they also recognize the same sense of pride of craftsmanship in their local community. On their website you can find several videos of Austin area artisans demonstrating their particular craftworks which include, to name a few, a seasoned cowboy boot maker, a prolific, highly-awarded paint artist, and a musician whose creative process is said to be redefining Latin music.
Not only is Still Austin Whiskey Co. committed to using locally sourced ingredients for what goes inside the bottle, they are also dedicated to supporting local artists who bring something distinctly unique to the outside of their bottles as well as the innovative creators who add something special to their local community.
Although newer whiskey brands and distilleries may not have the bragging rights of having been around for decades or even centuries, some of them were established not only to produce good whiskey, but to play a significant role in environmental conservation efforts as well as supporting their local communities through job creation. For instance, The Whiskey Wash recently spoke with Jennifer Stiefel, co-founder and president of Heritage Distilling Company and CEO of the Tribal Beverage Network, which, as stated in the TWW article, is “a first-of-its kind partnership with Native American Tribes to develop Heritage-branded distilleries and to serve patrons of tribal casinos and entertainment venues.”
When asked about what future economic opportunities the work of the Tribal Beverage Network will generate, Stiefel responded, “We are growing our footprint with several new locations with tribes across the U.S. that will ultimately establish new jobs and industries in the community. We aim to support tribes on their journey to create unique products customized for their Tribe to generate high-margin revenue, collect tax, allow them to capture more of the vertical margin, and create customer-focused amenities for a new generation of patrons.”
Since they started making whiskey, the Ohio based Noble Oak has been in partnership with the nonprofit One Tree Planted. As displayed on each bottle, Noble Oak’s mission is to plant one tree for every bottle. In fact, they have committed to planting 754,564 trees in multiple deforested locations from coast to coast across the US. As of an August 2022 online Forbes article, Noble Oaks has planted over 390,000 trees so far, with projects involving the planting of another 180,000 already in the works.
According to their brand manager Jack Bauer, Noble Oak specifically chose a tree planting organization as a partner in 2017 due to how essential trees are not only to whiskey production but to the overall environment. In a blog post on the One Tree Planted site, Bauer said, “As whiskey makers we are very thankful for trees, and we have a goal of giving back to the planet and our consumers, more than we take away.”
In partnership with One Tree Planted, Noble Oaks is committed to global reforestation as their mission to not only give back to their consumer and whiskey communities, but to the planet itself.
Cooperative Effort with Significant Results
While these are only a few examples of whiskey makers’ environmental efforts, many of today’s distilling companies are taking action towards enhancing biodiversity by reducing their carbon footprint and incorporating sustainable agricultural practices. All of which serves to benefit their local communities by creating jobs and industries as well as contributing to their local and state economies.
Because of these and other similar global endeavors, the growing community of whiskey makers, along with whiskey consumers and enthusiasts, form a compelling union towards the betterment of our local communities as well as our planet. And that’s something we can all raise a glass to.
Jennifer Williams is a former Dallas, Texas bartender of 15 years where she developed an appreciation for patrons with a healthy respect for great whiskey. She moved to Portland, Oregon in 2019 where she graduated from Portland State University as an English Literature major with a minor in Writing. While...