How green is your gin?

THERE is precious little good news around these days, whether it’s the chaos in our parliamentary system or the environment. But there was an interesting report at the end of August world’s greenest gin producer.

The Orkney Distillery’s HySpirits project has been granted £148,600 of funding from the Department of Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to conduct a feasibility study into the development of technology to enable the distillery to use hydrogen as a fuel to decarbonise the distilling process. The money comes from the government’s £390m fund to help industry develop low-carbon technologies.

The Orkney company would become the first gin distillery in the world to run on hydrogen made from renewable energy rather than liquid petroleum gas. The aim is to develop a thermal fluid heater system to operate with hydrogen as the combustion fuel within the distilling process, and remove the need to use fossil fuels such as kerosene and liquid petroleum gas (LPG), for the process. It could reduce emissions from the plant by about 86 tonnes of carbon every year, equivalent to the emissions from 10 homes or 18 cars.

The Orkney gin, produced in the islands’ capital Kirkwall, is called Kirkjuvagr, which means Church Bay in Old Norse. The name dates from the time when Orkney was emerging as a seat of power in the Viking Empire. The company says that in its name, Kirkjuvagr Orkney Gin “reflects the rich history of our islands and the boldness of those ancient seafarers.”

It is also totally contemporary, crafted with the care and imagination that today’s gin drinkers demand. The botanicals include a variety of Angelica, said to have been brought to the islands by the Norsemen, and still growing wild today. Other botanicals  include Ramanas Rose, Burnet Rose and Borage. And a unique Orkney ingredient, the ancient bere barley is also included.