As more alcohol companies emphasize sustainability, Diageo has opened what it’s calling the first carbon neutral whiskey distillery in North America.
Operating in Lebanon, Kentucky, the 72,000 square-foot facility has the capacity to produce up to 10 million proof gallons per year. It has begun distilling Bulleit Bourbon using electrode boilers powered by 100% renewable electricity throughout the cooking, distillation and dry house processes.
Bulleit is the first and lead brand produced at the Diageo Lebanon Distillery. This supplements existing production at the nearby Bulleit Distilling Co. in Shelbyville, Kentucky.
Diageo Lebanon Distillery was built so that fossil fuels are not used during production, the company says. By partnering with Inter-County Energy and East Kentucky Power Cooperative (EKPC), Diageo sources a mix of wind and solar energy to power the electrode boilers, onsite electric vehicles, internal and external lighting and equipment.
The site has also implemented virtual metering technology to advance visibility of water, electricity and steam usage. This collected data is meant to drive the company’s resource efficiency and sustainability.
These technologies will allow the Diageo Lebanon Distillery to avoid approximately more than 117,000 metric tons of carbon emissions annually, the company says, the equivalent of taking more than 25,000 cars off the road for a year.
“Two years ago, we set a vision and commitment to build our first carbon neutral distillery in North America,” says Perry Jones, president, 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.”
In addition to the sustainability features of the new facility, Diageo implemented an “optimized staffing model” consisting of Bourbon Production Experts (BPE’s) responsible for all aspects of distillery, dry house and operations. By rotating through each operational area to ensure depth of knowledge and flexibility, Diageo aims to accelerate the development of future leaders.