Spirits industry leader Diageo recently set its sights on a new, $245 million distillery to support the industry’s growth at the Crown Royal Canadian Whisky brand.
With the capacity to produce up to 10.5 million proof gallons of alcohol a year, the carbon neutral plant will sit on roughly 400 acres in Ontario’s St. Clair Township, and plans call for a distillery as well as blending and warehousing operations.
Diageo’s ‘Society 2030: Spirit of Progress’ sustainability action plan is going to shape the design and development of the distillery, as plans have it operating with 100-percent renewable energy to make it carbon neutral and for the plant to be zero-waste to the landfill from all direct operations.
“A low-carbon world is essential for a sustainable future, so I am thrilled to announce our first carbon neutral distillery in Canada as we continue to build momentum in our journey to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2030,” said Perry Jones, president of North America Supply for Diageo, in a prepared statement. “We celebrate such a significant milestone for our Crown Royal brand, our North American operations and global footprint.”
Crown Royal Canadian Whisky has seen recent growth that includes innovations such as Crown Royal Apple and rare, premium offerings like Crown Royal 18. Canadian whisky contributed 7% of Diageo’s global net sales and Crown Royal grew 12% in early fiscal numbers for 2022.
“Crown Royal is the heart of our whisky business, as the most valuable whisky brand. It’s critical when we extend our footprint, that we are committed to creating a more sustainable world,” said Sophie Kelly, senior vice president of whiskies for Diageo North America. “We are thrilled by this new world-class distillery. It will enable us to drive momentum to 2030 and beyond to elevate Crown Royal as a best-in-class whisky brand that leads innovation in the industry.”
With three production facilities across Canada and headquartered in Toronto, Ontario, Diageo employs about 700 people. In the past three years, the company has invested $75 million to develop technologically advanced and environmentally sustainable distilleries and production capabilities in Canada.
The new Diageo St. Clair Distillery will supplement the company’s existing Canadian manufacturing operations in Amherstburg, Ontario; Gimli, Manitoba; and Valleyfield, Quebec. This project will represent a further investment in Canada by Diageo of $245 million, over the next three years.
Once operational, Diageo officials said, this new facility will provide dozens of jobs in the local community.
This project is part of a greater plan for Diageo to reach net-zero carbon across its direct operations by 2030, harnessing 100-percent renewable energy. The company 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.
As part of this journey in North America, Diageo announced plans to transition its Valleyfield manufacturing site in Quebec to become carbon neutral by 2025. And plans include opening its first carbon neutral whiskey distillery in North America in Lebanon, Kentucky, to support Bulleit Bourbon.
On a global scale, three of Diageo’s distilleries in Scotland (Brora, Royal Lochnagar and Oban) have achieved carbon neutrality, and the company announced recently that it’s also building a carbon neutral whisky distillery in China.
Construction is anticipated to begin in the second half of 2022 on the new Crown Royal distillery, and it’s expected to be operational by 2025.
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