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Chivas Brothers makes carbon cutting technologies ‘open source’ to industry

Published:  19 July, 2023

The Scotch whisky producer has deployed highly efficient heat recovery technologies within the whisky distillation process, halving carbon emissions at its Glentauchers distillery.

Chivas Brothers, the Scotch whisky business of Pernod Ricard and maker of global Scotch whisky brands including Chivas Regal and The Glenlivet, has made its heat recovery technologies ‘open source’ to the industry. 

The heat recovery technologies, including Mechanical Vapour Recompression (MVR) and Thermo Vapour Recompression (TVR), are designed to capture and recycle heat generated in the distillation process that would otherwise go to waste.  

Following an application at Chivas Brothers’ Glentauchers distillery, the technology showed significant benefits in carbon emissions reduction, providing insights that could benefit the industry if adopted at other suitable distillation sites.   

To date, the technology has reduced total energy consumption by nearly half (48%) at the Glentauchers site, near Keith in Speyside, Scotland, reducing the company’s total carbon emissions by 53%. This represents an energy-saving equivalent to powering 4,979 average UK homes for an entire year, according to Chivas.

While not suitable for application in every distillery, Chivas Brothers estimates that if these technologies were applied by the wider industry’s malt distilleries alone, this could equate to a saving of some 1,756Gwh per year.

Jean-Etienne Gourgues, CEO of Chivas Brothers, said: “Heat recovery forms a critical part of our commitment to achieve carbon neutral distillation by 2026. Findings with such significant impact must be share, this technology has the potential to transform our industry and accelerate its progress to net zero.  

“That’s why today [19 July] we’re making our design process and implementation learnings available to all. As a business with a long history of innovation, we believe this is the right thing to do. Collaboration across our industry will be fundamental if we are to meet collective ambitions around sustainability, safeguarding the long-term future of our product and our planet. Understandably, this technology won’t be right for every distillery, but we encourage our peers to explore whether it has the potential to reduce their own carbon output.”   

The pilot programme at Glentauchers was part-funded by the Scottish government through the Scottish Industrial Energy Transformation Fund, which aims to support decarbonisation and energy efficiency in Scotland’s industries.  

Scottish government energy minister, Gillian Martin, added: “Chivas Brothers has led the way with an innovative approach which has halved energy consumption at their Glentauchers distillery. Sharing this breakthrough with the wider whisky industry has the potential to advance efforts to reach net zero across the sector.  

“Recycling heat from malt that would be the equivalent of powering all the homes in Edinburgh and Aberdeen could be a game changer for the industry, and a boost to Scotland’s economic growth while helping reach our climate change goals.”