Irish whiskey industry commits to less water and more trees

Irish Whiskey Association sustainability roadmap highlights need to support circular economy

Reducing water usage and increasing tree planting are among the goals the Irish whiskey industry has set in a sustainability strategy to be published on Monday.

The Irish Whiskey Association, which is affiliated to employers’ group Ibec, will publish a roadmap that outlines how it will reduce the environmental impact and carbon emissions of whiskey distilling at a time when the Irish industry continues to undergo a “whiskey renaissance”.

Its document, Irish Whiskey Sustainable Together, notes the industry purchases more than 100,000 tonnes of barley and malt each year from Irish farmers and commits to further increasing this. It says the industry will support the circular economy, saying that more than 350,000 tonnes of waste products from Irish whiskey production – spent grain and pot ale – are already used in the production of high-quality animal feed.

It will set a target of reducing the volume of water used per litre of whiskey distilled under the principle of “less water in, less effluent out”, while members will share best practice on energy efficiency.


Trees on the Land, an all-island initiative that establishes young native trees, has been selected as a tree-planting partner, while the association has also signed up to support the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan which aims to help bees, other pollinating insects and wider biodiversity.

“The roadmap is about an industry working together and sharing knowledge with a shared ambition to make Ireland the home of the world’s most sustainable distilleries,” said Irish Whiskey Association director William Lavelle.

“Some Irish whiskey distilleries will reach net-zero very quickly and, through the knowledge transfer projects set out in the roadmap, we will support all distilleries to make the transition, particularly the two-thirds of our members who are SMEs.”

The plan has been backed by Enterprise Ireland and Invest Northern Ireland.

Laura Slattery

Laura Slattery

Laura Slattery is an Irish Times journalist writing about media, advertising and other business topics