Spirits giant Diageo has opened its first carbon-neutral whiskey distillery in North America in Lebanon, Kentucky.
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 that are powered by 100% renewable electricity throughout the cooking, distillation, and dry house processes.
Bulleit is the first and lead brand being produced at the Diageo Lebanon Distillery and supplements existing production at the nearby Bulleit Distilling Co. in Shelbyville, Kentucky.
The site will create 30 full-time jobs and source 100% non-GMO corn locally, Diageo added.
Perry Jones, president, North America supply for Diageo, commented, "Two years ago, we set a vision and commitment to build our first carbon neutral distillery in North America. 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.”
Designed with sustainability at its core, the distillery is built to ensure that fossil fuels are not used during production.
Diageo is sourcing a mix of wind and solar energy through a partnership with Inter-County Energy and East Kentucky Power Cooperative (EKPC) 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.
The site has implemented virtual metering technology to advance visibility of water, electricity, and steam use, and collecting key data to drive the company’s resource efficiency and sustainability.
These technologies will allow the Diageo Lebanon Distillery to cut approximately more than 117,000 metric tonnes of carbon emissions annually, or the equivalent of taking more than 25,000 cars off the road for a year.
Sophie Kelly, SVP Whiskies at Diageo North America, said, "At Bulleit, we believe we have a responsibility to our environment, our communities, and our 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."
Diageo has a long-standing commitment to reducing its carbon footprint at its distillery in Shelbyville, Kentucky, which was recognised as Highly Commended for Sustainable Distillery of the Year at Whisky Magazine’s 2020 Icons of Whisky American Awards.
In 2021, the brand pledged an annual $25,000 grant to support Kentucky State University students in the Master of Agriculture Sciences in Environmental Studies programme for the next five years, helping build a pipeline into the spirits industry by supporting the sustainability leaders of tomorrow.
Bulleit recently partnered with American Forests to plant one million trees by 2025, providing a variety of environmental benefits including carbon sequestration, air purification, and conservation of water and wildlife habitat.
The Bulleit Distilling Co. production is also a zero waste to landfill site, Diageo added.
Low Carbon Future
Combatting climate change is at the heart of Diageo’s ‘Society 2030: Spirit of Progress’ action plan.
The company has already halved carbon emissions from its operations since 2008, and is now working to reach net-zero carbon across its direct operations by 2030.
As part of its action plan, Diageo is developing roadmaps on a site-by-site basis 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% reduction by 2030.
Building on a long track-record of environmental, social and governance (ESG) progress globally, Diageo is now among the top 1,000 companies in the world taking action to address climate change in a science-led and systemic way.
The company’s goals in this space have been calculated in accordance with the principles of Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) and recently validated as meeting the criteria for the 1.5oC pathway.
Diageo is part of a group of organisations that are 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 organisations.
As a signatory to RE100, Diageo aims to source 100% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030.
In addition, Diageo has signed onto the global Race to Zero campaign, a commitment to achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 or earlier.
In North America, the company joined the Renewable Thermal Collaborative to share best practices and work together to scale up renewable thermal energy.