The Glenlivet has partnered with the University of Aberdeen and James Hutton Institute to introduce environmentally sustainable solutions at Chivas Brothers’ Speyside distillery to address water scarcity and protect whisky production.
The project is intended to help prevent the closure of the distillery during dry periods, as last month’s heatwave saw temperatures soar across Scotland, and such periods are predicted to become more frequent due to climate change.
Many distilleries have had to temporarily stop distilling in recent summers because of water shortages, costing the industry millions. During the dry summer of 2018 groundwater supplies to The Glenlivet distillery decreased and did not replenish until the following spring.
The project is led by PhD student Jessica Fennell, who has had a special ‘Fennell Reserve’ whisky created by The Glenlivet in her honour.
After initially surveying the landscape to determine where dams would best protect groundwater supplies, the study team used a combination of field data collection and modelling tools to provide insights into how they operated once installed.
Dr Ronald Daalmans, Environmental Sustainability Manager at Chivas Brothers said: “Our aim is to ensure all our distilleries operate within the local capacity of their catchment to provide water, particularly during low flows.
“This research has indicated that the land within the catchment could be used to help mitigate the impacts of climate change on water availability.
“This is important for the long-term viability of the distillery, but could also benefit the entire Scotch Whisky industry, especially in upland areas.
“This is important for the long-term viability of the distillery, but could also benefit the entire Scotch Whisky industry, especially in upland areas.”