Dewar's Distillery Powering Itself, 8,000 Homes with Biofuel from Whisky By-Products

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The Rothes CoRDe, a John Dewar & Sons distillery part-owned by The Combination of Rothes Distillers, is the latest facility under the Bacardi umbrella to produce energy through a biomass boiler fuelled by Scotch whisky distillery by-products. The Dewar's facility produces enough energy to power entire communities of neighboring distilleries — along with about 8,000 homes.

“A number of whisky companies are part of an industry consortium looking at sustainable ways of processing by-products from our distilleries,” says Iain Lochhead, Operations Director for John Dewar & Sons Ltd., part of the Bacardi group of companies.

Dewar's is part of the Bacardi group of companies and has seven locations in Scotland. Just last month, Dewar’s Aberfeldy Distillery in central Scotland announced it had cut its carbon footprint by 90 percent. The new Rothes CoRDe facility is located in Rothes, a city in the heart of Northern Scotland’s Speyside area. Speyside is home to around 50 whisky distilleries, and Rothes itself is home to four.

Similar to the Aberfeldy Distillery, the Rothes CoRDe is a blended-biomass plant that burns draff (the spent grains used in the distilling process) with woodchips to create steam-generated electricity. Except the new facility generates enough energy to power entire communities.

“We generate 8.3 megawatts of electricity every hour of every day. We use some onsite and export the rest — enough for 20,000 people in 8,000 homes,” said Frank Burns, Managing Director at Rothes CoRDe.

Converting pot ale (the residue from copper whisky stills) into organic feedstock is another technique used to divert waste from the distilleries. Local farmers use it for their animals. Each of these initiatives helps the company get a little closer to creating a “closed loop” lifecycle for their whisky products.

Among John Dewar & Sons’ five malt distilleries, the company claims to have achieved:

  • 34 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions since 2006;
  • 46 percent reduction in water use since 2009; and
  • 30 percent reduction of waste to landfill since 2010.

Bacardi has numerous other projects under its Good Spirited sustainability program, including efforts to sustainably source 100 percent of its sugarcane supply chain by 2022. Since launching the program in 2006, Bacardi claims to have reduced its non-renewable energy use by nearly 28 percent and decreased its greenhouse gas emissions by over 28 percent.

Nearby, The Macallan, one of the world’s most famous whisky distilleries, last year launched a £74m clean energy project at its facility in Speyside, which is also expected to produce enough energy to heat the plant as well as power 20,000 local homes. The biomass combined heat and power facility is expected to generate 87.4 GWh of renewable electricity and 76.8 GWh of renewable heat, every year — with carbon savings equivalent to taking 18,000 cars off the road. Between Dewar’s and MacAllan, Speyside residents may now be a bit more comfortable during Scotland’s brutal winters.

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