World Gin Day was first celebrated in 2009 and now gin lovers all over the globe get involved in celebrating one of Britain’s favourite spirits.

Gin has had a resurgence in the last decade but a variation of Gin has been produced since the middle ages as people were aware of the medical benefits and the disinfectant healing power of juniper berries. The drink we now all know and love was originally consumed for medicinal purposes. Traditionally gin was produced by combining a flavourless, base spirit with a range of botanicals which release their aromatics during the distillation process. All gins contain juniper as the main botanical. More recently, gin brands are experimenting with an array of different flavour variations, from pink grapefruit to chocolate orange.

In the last decade, the UK’s gin intake has increased exponentially and in particular, the Scottish gin industry is an important part of the Scottish economy. With over 450 Scottish gins now on the market, brands are having to find a unique selling point in order to stand out and many of them are looking to sustainability. This is a welcome trend as a 2020 report by the C&C group found that the drinks industry in general is lagging behind when it comes to sustainability measures. Indeed, the glass recycling rates remain less than 50% and moves to reduce plastic are still not being meaningfully pursued by many producers. We have examined a few of the most innovative distilleries who are fully committed to reducing their carbon footprint and fighting against climate change.

Firstly, it was recently announced that Isle of Barra Distillers have plans to build a new Whisky and Gin Distillery entirely powered by renewable energy and built with sustainable materials. The company also aims to develop a green travel plan in an attempt to limit the number of visitors driving to the site therefore reducing carbon emissions. This innovative new distillery is expected to create at least 30 new jobs on the Island of Barra.

Recently, MacRoberts had the pleasure of recording a podcast with Iain Stirling, the co-founder of Arbikie distillery who have recently produced the revolutionary Nàdar Gin – the world’s first Climate Positive Gin. The production of Nàdar Gin has a carbon footprint of -1.54kg CO2e per 700ml bottle and is at the forefront of the industry in the fight against climate change. The key feature of Nàdar Gin is that the base spirit is made from peas, which are able to meet their nitrogen requirement from the air avoiding the use of synthetic fertilisers which are a major source of greenhouse gases. Arbikie Distillery is a field to bottle operation which strives to be at the forefront of sustainability and innovation in the gin industry.

Finally, the award-winning NB Distillery, based in North Berwick, has created a new gin that comes in a fully recyclable paper bottle. The green bottles, produced by UK-based sustainable packaging company Frugalpac, are made from 94% recycled paperboard and lined with a special food-grade plastic pouch. The Frugal bottles are also significantly lighter than their glass equivalents – around a fifth of the weight – which helps to lower the carbon footprint for distribution.

These are just three great examples of the Scottish gin industry’s attempts to become more sustainable and it is clear that the industry as a whole is attempting to lessen its impact on the environment.

Cheers to World Gin Day and to many more sustainability initiatives emerging from the Scottish gin sector in the future.

This article was co-written by Clare Tuohy , Trainee Solicitor.