Whisky Giant unveils £3 million investment to restore Scottish peatlands

US firm Beam Suntory and its Japanese parent, Suntory Holdings, have unveiled their initiative to restore and conserve large swathes of Scotland’s peatlands.

The companies will invest £3m in restoring and conserving 1,300 hectares of Scotland’s peatlands by 2039. This sum equates to the same amount of peat Beam Suntory harvest annually to make their scotch whiskies.

Chief supply chain officer at Beam Suntory, David Hunter said: “As part of our ‘Proof Positive’ sustainability strategy, we believe it’s our responsibility to make a positive impact on the environment in which we operate, which is why we are committing to restoring and conserving as much peat as we harvest by 2030, as well as conserving crucial watersheds across Scotland.”

“By protecting peatlands and preserving local watersheds, we will also help to enhance and ensure the production of the highest quality whisky in Scotland for future generations.”

The drinks firms are working in partnership with James Hutton Institute, which is aiding with the research, planning and execution, and the land’s owner, Forestry and Land Scotland.

Professor Colin Campbell, chief executive of the James Hutton Institute, said: “We are pleased to be working alongside Suntory, Beam Suntory and Forestry and Land Scotland on this vital initiative to help restore and protect one of Scotland’s most iconic habitats”.

“Healthy peatlands help build resilience into our water supplies and restoring them allows nature to recover from the impact of climate change and promotes long-term carbon sequestration”.

“These natural assets are essential for sustaining one of Scotland’s most important industries, and it is truly a pleasure to work with partners who have such a well-developed philosophy around the protection of our natural environment.”

Forestry and Land Scotland chief executive Simon Hodgson added: “We are pleased to be working with Suntory, Beam Suntory and the James Hutton Institute on such a forward-looking conservation programme.”

The first pilot phase will commence in November, with efforts to restore and conserve 37-acres of peatland on Knockandy Hill, close to the Ardmore single malt distillery, at Kennethmont.

Future projects on Islay and at Oldmeldrum

Initial assessments for future projects have begun on Islay, in the Inner Hebrides, where Beam Suntory’s Laphroaig and Bowmore distilleries are based. Planning of potential watershed activities near Glen Garioch Distillery, at Oldmeldrum, and Auchentoshan Distillery, at Clydebank, have also started.

The drinks firms said the project aligned with the Scotch Whisky Association’s environmental commitment, launched earlier this year, alongside their own sustainability strategies.

Looking beyond 2030, the companies aim to restore twice the amount of peat harvested to make its whiskies by 2040.

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