Diageo Opens Its First Carbon Neutral Whiskey Distillery In North America

Global beverage giant Diageo recently opened its first carbon neutral distillery in Lebanon, Kentucky, and Bulleit is the first product under way there.

The site supports the local community with 30 full-time jobs while also sourcing 100 percent non-GMO corn locally. The 72,000 square-foot facility has the capacity to produce up to 10 million proof gallons per year and has begun distilling Bulleit Bourbon using electrode boilers powered by 100 percent renewable electricity throughout the cooking, distillation, and dry house processes.

Bulleit is Diageo’s first and lead brand being produced at the Lebanon Distillery, and this supplements existing production at the nearby Bulleit Distilling Co. in Shelbyville, Kentucky.

Diageo Lebanon DIstillery

Diageo Lebanon DIstillery (image via Diageo)

Diageo officials said that the new distillery is designed with sustainability at its core and was built to ensure that fossil fuels were not used during production. By partnering with Inter-County Energy and East Kentucky Power Cooperative (EKPC), Diageo is sourcing a mix of wind and solar energy to power the electrode boilers, onsite electric vehicles, internal and external lighting and equipment, making the facility one of the largest of its kind in North America.

In a statement from Diageo, officials explained that the distillery site has implemented virtual metering technology to advance visibility of water, electricity, and steam usage, collecting key data. That will be used to drive the company’s resource efficiency and sustainability.

These technologies, they noted, will allow the Diageo Lebanon Distillery to avoid approximately 117,000 metric tons of carbon emissions annually, the equivalent of taking more than 25,000 cars off the road for a year.

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“Two years ago, we set a vision and commitment to build our first carbon neutral distillery in North America,” said Perry Jones, President of North America Supply for Diageo. “Now that the Diageo Lebanon Distillery is operational, I’m incredibly proud of the innovative actions from our teams and partners to fully electrify the facilities and power them with renewable electricity. This is a significant step in our journey to create a low carbon future and be part of the solution to tackle the ongoing climate crisis.”

Sophie Kelly, a senior vice president at Diageo North America, said that Bulleit distillers agree they have a responsibility to the environment, their communities, and the planet. “We are proud to initiate the production of Bulleit Bourbon at the carbon neutral Lebanon Distillery, as we take a significant step forward in the brand’s long-lasting commitment to sustainability.”

Combating climate change and its associated impacts is said by the company to be at the heart of its ‘Society 2030: Spirit of Progress’ action plan. Diageo noted it has already halved the carbon emissions associated with its operations since 2008 and is now working to reach net-zero carbon across its direct operations by 2030, harnessing 100 percent renewable energy.

As part of its action plan, Diageo is developing site-by-site roadmaps and is also working to achieve net-zero carbon across the entire supply chain by 2050 or sooner, with an interim milestone to achieve a 50 percent reduction by 2030.

Diageo is part of a larger group of organizations championing a green recovery and supporting the Sustainable Development Goals, through membership of the United Nations Global Compact, We Mean Business Coalition and other key global advocacy organizations.