Glenfiddich fuels transport fleet with breakthrough green biogas made from its own whisky residues


London, 27th July 2021: Glenfiddich, the world’s most-awarded single malt Scotch whisky, has launched a pioneering ‘closed loop’ sustainable transport initiative that will make it the first global spirits brand to run its delivery fleet on green biogas made from the residues of its own distilling process.

Using a unique technology developed by its parent company William Grant & Sons, the Glenfiddich distillery at Dufftown in north-eastern Scotland converts its production wastes and residues into an Ultra-Low Carbon Fuel (ULCF) gas that produces minimal carbon dioxide and other harmful emissions.

Fuelling stations have been installed at the distillery, and the biogas is now powering specially converted trucks that handle the transportation of the Glenfiddich spirit at all stages of its production at the Dufftown distillery through to bottling and packaging, a journey that covers four William Grant & Sons’ sites in central and western Scotland. Local road users will soon get used to seeing trucks bearing the proud statement: ‘Fuelled by Glenfiddich - turning whisky waste into Ultra Low Carbon Fuel’.

Stuart Watts, William Grant & Sons’ distilleries director, said: “Glenfiddich is appreciated around the world as a unique single malt whisky, which is the result of generations of pioneering craftsmanship and concern for the long-term sustainability of the spirit.

“It has taken more than a decade for Glenfiddich to become the first distillery to process 100% of its waste residues on its own site, then to be the first to process those residues into biogas fuel to power its trucks, and finally to be the first to install a biogas truck fuelling station supplied by our on-site renewable energy facility. 

“Across the entire production lifecycle, the biogas reduces carbon dioxide (CO2e) by over 95% and other harmful particulates and greenhouse gas emissions by up to 99% when compared to diesel and other fossil fuels. Each truck will displace up to 250 tonnes of CO2e annually, which has the same environmental benefit as planting up to 4,000 trees every year - the equivalent of displacing natural gas, a fossil fuel, from 112 households.”

Mr Watts added: “William Grant & Sons has been a pioneering distiller for more than 130 years, always exploring new processes and techniques to create sustainable benefits for our business and communities. 

We are proud of these renewable energy breakthroughs in our industry as we scale up the de-carbonising benefits of this closed-loop process across our entire transport fleet.”

Claudia Falcone, Glenfiddich’s global brand director, added: “Our consumers have a maverick mindset that encourages us to push boundaries. As a family-owned business we think in the long term whether our focus is on the sustainable measures we employ at the distillery or on producing the world’s most awarded single malt. Our green biogas transport fleet is absolutely in line with our brand ethos of ‘Where Next’ - always challenging ourselves not to rest on our past achievements but to always look for what is coming next.”

The ‘Fuelled by Glenfiddich’ breakthrough is an example of the brand’s actions to reduce the environmental impact of its production process. It is one of a range of sustainability activities taking place across William Grant & Sons’ wider business in line with the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA)’s roadmap to achieve targets set out under the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, which will be a main focus of the UN COP26 Climate Change Conference in Glasgow this November.

The SWA’s four main areas for industry action are: tackling climate change by having net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040; moving to a circular economy by making all packaging reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025; hitting responsible water use targets by 2025; and caring for the land through the active conservation and restoration of Scotland’s peatland by 2035.

After launching Glenfiddich’s green biogas vehicles, William Grant & Sons will scale up the de-carbonising benefits of the Ultra-Low Carbon Fuel closed-loop process across its entire transport fleet and its industry supply chain, and is planning to make the technology available across the Scottish whisky industry to support the decarbonisation of transport in line with UK and Scottish governments’ net zero targets.

 

About Glenfiddich:

GLENFIDDICH® is the world’s most awarded single malt Scotch whisky. Today, Glenfiddich is run by the fifth generation of the Grant-Gordon family and is one of the few remaining family-owned and operated distilleries in the world. Glenfiddich continues to be a progressive spirit in challenging malt whisky conventions while also staying true to legacy, by keeping the traditional production techniques established by founder William Grant.

 

About William Grant & Sons:

William Grant & Sons is an independent family-owned distiller headquartered in the United Kingdom and founded by William Grant in 1887. Today, the global premium spirits company is run by the fifth generation of his family and distils some of the world’s leading brands of Scotch Whisky, including the world’s most-awarded single malt Glenfiddich®, The Balvenie® range of handcrafted single malts and the world’s third largest blended Scotch, Grant’s®, as well as other iconic spirits brands such as Hendrick’s® Gin, Sailor Jerry®, Tullamore D.E.W.® Irish Whiskey, Monkey Shoulder® and Drambuie®.

 

Press office contact for Glenfiddich and William Grant & Sons: PNUK_WGS@porternovelli.co.uk

 

PART ONE – THE TECHNOLOGY       

Q1: How do you make vehicle fuel from whisky distilling residues? 

A: Through a process called anaerobic digestion – where bacteria, without oxygen, breaks down the leftover components resulting in the production of biogas – a renewable source of energy.

Q2: Can the technology be used to support other parts of Glenfiddich’s production process?

A: Yes, the same technology is used to generate on-site power at our Girvan distillery. This initiative has been critical in our continued efforts to reduce our carbon footprint while increasing efficiency.

Q3: How do you then generate an efficient fuel for trucks? 

A: The biogas is cleaned to a fuel specification similar to natural gas. This Ultra-low Carbon Fuel (ULCF) is a renewable fuel that achieves a 90% reduction in CO2 emissions and other harmful particulate emissions compared with diesel.

Q4: Have you used existing technical solutions, or developed your own?

A: We have combined a range of existing technologies with specific in-house developments.

Q5: What are the main components of the distilling residues that you process to create renewable energy? 

A: Draff (spent grain) and Pot Ale (the residue from fermented mash liquid) from the malt distillation process.

Q6: WG&S is a distiller, not a renewable fuel company – have you developed these technologies yourself

A: We have developed the technologies developed in-house through our Renewable Energy subsidiary.

Q7: Will your subsidiary company be supplying renewable fuel to other Scotch whisky companies and their hauliers?

A: We will be supplying renewable fuel to the wider distilling sectors supply chain fleet.

Q8: Does this mean that biogas from WG&S distilleries will be used by your competitors for their transport fleets? 

A: Renewable fuel is available to the distilling supply chain fleet.

Q9: You mention that this technology is a result of over 10 years of research and innovation, what was the inspiration for creating this closed-loop system?

A:  The project itself was inspired by our ambition to decarbonise our production and distribution processes. Through adopting a closed-loop system, we are not only able to divert waste from our distillery, but we are also supporting the decarbonisation of transport in line with UK and Scottish governments’ net zero targets.

Q10: Are you planning on sharing this technology with other industry sectors?

A: The long-term plan is for William Grant & Sons (Glenfiddich’s owner) will scale up the de-carbonising benefits of the Ultra-Low Carbon Fuel closed-loop process across its entire transport fleet and its industry supply chain, and is planning to make the technology available across the Scottish whisky industry.

PART TWO – BIOGAS AND GLENFIDDICH’S FLEET

Q1: How does the performance of biogas compare with diesel and LPG in terms of efficiency and effectiveness in your trucks?

A: Comparable to other fossil fuels; however, it achieves >90% reduction in CO2 and other harmful particulate emissions compared with diesel.

Q2: How far will your vehicles be able to drive between refuelling stops?  

A: Up to 300 miles, with the ability to increase range through additional fuel tanks if pay load permits.

Q3: If they happen to run out of your biogas fuel, can they be refuelled with LPG or other gas-based fuels? 

A: As renewable fuels develop – more fuelling infrastructure will come online to broaden the range / availability. In the short term the fleets will be supported by mobile fuelling vehicles.

Q4: How easy has it been for IVECO to modify their standard vehicles to run on your biogas fuel?

A: Gas truck technology has been established for a long time and the engines produced by IVECO are very closely related to their diesel counterparts. However, instead of operating using the diesel ignition cycle, they adopt the Otto cycle, compressing the fuel and air mixture with a spark ignition and multipoint fuel injection. The waste products, especially when running on biomethane gasses are clean enough that just a simple three-way catalytic converter near the end of the exhaust pipe is required.

Q5: Based on your average annual mileage, what will be the CO2 /other emission reduction per vehicle/across your whole fleet?  

A: About 250 tonnes of CO2 per truck averaging 100,000 miles a year – which has the same environmental planting 4,000 trees per truck every year. This is the equivalent to displacing natural gas, a fossil fuel, from 112 households.

Q6: What cost savings will you make by reducing your purchase of diesel/LPG?

A: This development is cost neutral.

Q7: What challenges have you faced in developing and installing your own fuelling stations?

A:  This has been a straightforward process of installing a propriety compression system and dispensing technology.

Q7: Do you plan to add more filling stations at your other sites – and if so, when? 

A: Fuel infrastructure will be developed as the fleets enter the renewable fuel scheme.

Q8: Will you make your filling stations available to other users if they move to this fuel? 

A: Yes.

PART THREE – GLENFIDDICH’S FUTURE SUSTAINABILITY STRATEGY

Q1: You mention that this significant next step is the result of more than ten years of work – this has obviously been well-planned, so what is the overall strategy driving your investment in this area? 

A:  Our overall goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the distilling sector, creating a green circular process, allowing Glenfiddich to fans to sip easy knowing they are raising a glass to a more sustainable future. Despite over a decade of work in this area, we are proud to be IVECO’s first UK customer to adopt this new technology.

Q2: You mention that your initiatives are in line with the Scotch Whisky Association’s sustainability goals, what are they and what are your plans for matching them?

A: The SWA’s  goals are tackling climate change by having net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040; moving to a circular economy by making all packaging reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025; hitting responsible water use targets by 2025; and caring for the land through the active conservation and restoration of Scotland’s peatland by 2035. Our future sustainability priorities will be focused around matching these goals and timelines.

Q3: This initiative is the ‘next step; on Glenfiddich’s sustainability journey, what steps has the brand already taken to improve sustainability?

A: For over a decade Glenfiddich has been moving in a more sustainable direction streamlining the distilling process to make them more efficient and minimise impact.  We now use less water thanks to developing better cooling efficiencies and re-using the wastewater.  With plastic reduction, all the taps and other plastic fittings are no made from recyclable plastics and when they need to be replaced, they are fully recycled.  Energy retention has also been a focus and we have developed ways of retaining more heat through the distilling process so less is wasted.

Q3: Many companies have declared their goals in relation to carbon zero and carbon neutrality by 2040 and some even by 2030 - what goals have you set, and over what timescale? 

A: As a brand, we are focused on taking action to reduce the environmental impact of production process, and our ‘Fuelled by Glenfiddich’ is just one example of this. Our future sustainability priorities will be focused on matching the SWA’s sustainability goals.

Q4: Do you set and measure annual goals in relation to carbon reduction – if so, what are they, and what progress are you making? 

A: As a brand, we are focused on taking action to reduce the environmental impact of production process, and our ‘Fuelled by Glenfiddich’ is just one example of this. Our future sustainability priorities will be focused on matching the SWA’s sustainability goals.

Q5: Do you have plans to apply this closed loop technology across other William Grant & Sons brands?

A: After launching Glenfiddich’s green biogas vehicles, William Grant & Sons will scale up the de-carbonising benefits of the Ultra-Low Carbon Fuel closed-loop process across its entire transport fleet and its industry supply chain, and is planning to make the technology available across the Scottish whisky industry to support the decarbonisation of transport in line with UK and Scottish governments’ net zero targets.

Q6: Given this pioneering new step, do you think that enough is being done across the whisky industry to improve the sustainability of the distilling process?

A: We cannot speak for the whole whisky industry. This world first green biogas transport fleet is a significant step for us and we are looking forward to exploring ways of helping implement it for other whisky brands.  As category leaders we are looking to inspire others in the industry and show what can be done to help preserve the whisky industry for future generations.   This transport fleet is a significant step in achieving this.

Q7: What drives this sustainability strategy?  Is this an industry or an increasing consumer demand?

A:There is a need for the whisky industry to constantly innovate and evolve to improve efficiencies, but with the effects of climate change there is an increasing need to find ways to ensure the whisky making process is as sustainable as possible, and this is something we have seen increase over the last decade.  More recently, there has been a shift towards more of a consumer need to be reassured where their whisky is coming from and bars are seeing increases in customers asking about spirits and sustainability. 

 

27th July 2021