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Whisky Magazine News - Producer 'Punished' for Trying to Help the Environment

Thu 19 Nov 2009

Producer 'Punished' for Trying to Help the Environment

Loch Lomond Distillery Company, which makes the UK's third most popular blended whisky, is appealing for help to overturn plans which would make the industry less competitive and less environmentally friendly.

A new definition of 'Scotch malt whisky' due to come into force on November 23 will force pioneering producers such as Loch Lomond to abandon efforts to reduce energy waste and help combat climate change.

Each year the company makes more than 20 million bottles of High Commissioner, a blend recently described by the Whisky Bible as "a spectacularly improved blend" and rated as a "very good to excellent whisky", which is supplied to most of the major UK supermarket chains.

However, unless consumers lobby MPs to adapt the new regulations governing what kind of stills can produce Scotland's national drink the award winning distillery may have to shut down some of its production process.

Loch Lomond distillery has been at the forefront of pioneering attempts to modernise the traditional industry with the use of more energy efficient distillation methods.

The company already uses lightweight glass to reduce the amount of packaging sent to landfill and has been honoured by the Carbon Trust for 'Outstanding Achievement in Manufacturing Energy Efficiency' after installing a revolutionary system which recycled heat and water used in the distilling process.

For the last two years the company, which is based in Alexandria near Glasgow, has been using an energy efficient single still which helps save thousands of tons of CO2 every year.

Although the method has been around since the early 1800s Loch Lomond have improved its efficiency enough to have already smashed their Government Climate Change Levy Targets for 2011 by driving down energy use by 7 per cent.

However, according to new rules unless they use a less efficient old fashioned pot still Loch Lomond will not be allowed to use the term "malt whisky".

"We have a method that produces a very good malt but we are being penalised," said John Peterson, Distilling Director of Loch Lomond.

"We want to make the process better and save considerable amounts of energy. As it is we are preventing more than 1,400 tonnes of CO2 being released every year.

"Politicians are quick to shout about climate change and how industry has to find new ways to conserve energy and reduce carbon output but when companies like us try to do something innovate we get slapped down for it.

"We need a proper discussion on this. Our customers who enjoy good quality whisky at reasonable prices, and who want to continue doing so, need to ask their MP to object to the legislation before it's too late."

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