Distillery looks to go green with new £3million project

One of Speyside’s oldest whisky distilleries is set to become one of Scotland’s greenest distilleries.

Work has started on a £3 million biogas project at Inver House Distillers’ Balmenach Distillery to significantly reduce the site’s carbon footprint.

The new anaerobic digestion system will break down the co-products of whisky production using micro-organisms to produce clean, methane-rich biogas to power the site.

The new technology will integrate with Balmenach’s existing wood-pellet biomass boiler, and once complete, the combined system will generate enough renewable steam and electricity to meet 100 per cent of the Distillery’s energy requirements with a surplus of electrical energy supplied to the grid.

When operational in summer 2018, approximately 130 cubic metres of whisky co-products (pot ale and spent lees) will be processed to produce 2,000m3 of biogas each day, feeding a combined heat and power engine which will supply 200kW of power and 230kW of heat.

Located near Grantown on Spey and one of Inver House Distillers’ five malt whisky plants, Balmenach is on track to produce two million litres of whisky for the blended Scotch market in 2018.

Inver House Distillers’ managing director Martin Leonard

The site is also the home of Caorunn, one of the fastest growing Scottish gin brands.

As well as the benefits of reduced emissions, improved energy efficiency and reduced operational costs, Balmenach’s use of these technologies will significantly reduce heavy goods vehicle movements from its remote location in the Spey Valley. The new system will also return clean water to the nearby burn, and nutrient rich bio-solids to the land for barley farming in the Speyside region.

Inver House Distillers’ managing director Martin Leonard said: ‘Inver House Distillers was an early champion of green distilling in Scotland, and sustainability and consideration for the environmental impact at each of our sites is at the heart of our business strategy. With this new investment at Balmenach we are using the very latest technology to further that commitment, working with the best partners in the business to help us achieve our environmental goals.

‘It’s an exciting step in our journey and one that we know is recognised and appreciated, not just by the communities surrounding our distilleries, but by the drinkers around the world who enjoy our premium spirits.

‘We also hope this investment will demonstrate how low carbon manufacture and clean growth are achievable, regardless of the size, location or output of the production site.’

The soon to be more environmentally-friendly Balmenach Distillery

A team of specialist suppliers has been recruited by Inver House Distillers to deliver the new system: Synergie Environ, the Glasgow-based low carbon energy engineering company, is project managing the installation at Balmenach through all feasibility, planning, permitting, procurement and construction phases.

Managing director Uisdean Fraser commented: ‘We believe the project will deliver a malt whisky distillery which is powered entirely from renewable energy sources with the on-site combination of biomass for the primary heat source and electricity from the CHP powered by biogas from the anaerobic digestion plant.’

Clearfleau, the specialist provider of on-site biogas plants for the food and drink industry, is working with Inver House to design and build the new system. Craig Chapman, CEO, of Clearfleau, addead: ‘Clearfleau is delighted to be working with Inver House Distillers to further reduce carbon emissions at Balmenach Distillery.

‘Once complete, the on-site biogas plant will provide a more sustainable solution for its co-products, supplying renewable energy that will help reduce the distillery’s power and other costs.’