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Sustainability spotlight: Clonakilty Distillery

Following our Celebration of Sustainability — a collaboration between db Asia and ProWine — which took place in Singapore in April, we spotlight one of our worthy winners going the extra mile to preserve the natural beauty of Ireland’s coastline.

Sustainability spotlight: Clonakilty Distillery
Left to right: Beatrice Ho, ProWine Singapore project director; Eloise Feilden, the drinks business Asia editor, Helen Scully’ Michael Scully

On Wednesday 24 April, members of the trade gathered at ProWine Singapore to celebrate sustainability. The exhibition played host to an inaugural event highlighting the best green initiatives in the drinks industry, launched as a collaboration between ProWine and the drinks business Asia.

Here, we speak to one of our winners, Clonakilty Distillery, to find out more about the work its founders are doing to better the planet.

In the event’s inaugural year, we had strong applications from spirits companies working with sustainable practices, but one producer stood out.

As farmers and distillers, Clonakilty Distillery’s founding family had a vision when it launched in 2016 to be one of Ireland’s most sustainable distilleries.

“We live in a beautiful area next to the ocean,” explains Michael Scully, who co-founded the distillery with wife Helen. “We’re a maritime distillery, we grow our grain at the edge of the ocean, we mature our whiskey at the edge of the ocean, and distil it at the edge of the ocean, so the land and sea interaction is really important. We’ve always felt like that as people, and winning the award was a real credit to the team.”

Scully explains that giving back to nature is just part of the business’s ethos. “We see ourselves as the custodians of our area, so sustainability is built into our DNA,” he says.

The couple and their team have set out to cultivate sustainable growth through partnerships with local farmers and suppliers, developing a circular economy within the local area.

Clonakilty Distillery impressed this year’s judges with its grain-to-glass concept, meaning everything from grain growing to distilling, maturing, blending and bottling happens on site.

Scully says the goal is to keep things as “local as possible”, a culture “we’ve developed within the company which we’re really proud of”. Indeed, 100% of production operations are within the local area, minimising the distillery’s transport carbon footprint.

The barley used in Clonakilty whiskey is either grown on the family farm or supplied by local farmers, the majority within a 15km radius.

Scully and wife Helen have even thought about how to reduce waste, redistributing 100% of the residue from distillation to local farmers to use as fertiliser or animal feed.

Clonakilty Distillery’s next goal is to become B Corp certified, a process Scully predicts will take a minimum of 12 months.

“It will force us to set targets to achieve in a timely fashion what we really want to do,” he says.

The Irish company is already focused on improving biodiversity, having planted over 400 native trees, shrubs and hedgerows to provide habitats for other wildlife. The team’s first step towards certification will be to extend the plantings in its wildflower meadows and get its bee bank up and running for the summer.

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