Global beverage company Diageo announced today that it is building its first carbon neutral distillery, and one of the largest in North America. The $130 million facility will distill Bulleit, the company’s ‘Frontier’ whiskey brand, and is expected to be fully operational in 2021.

Diageo stated that the facility reinforces the company’s commitment to reducing its carbon emissions and addressing climate change. The company has a set goal of sourcing 100% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030, and is committed to achieving net zero carbon emissions.

The site will be powered by 100% renewable electricity, with a capacity to produce up to 10 million proof gallons per year.  It will use electrode boilers, utilize a mix of renewable electricity sources to power a 72,000 square-foot distillery, dry house, and warehousing facilities.

The facility will have the capability to distill a variety of bourbon and American whiskey brands, with Bulleit as the first and lead brand produced at the new distillery – supplementing existing production at The Bulleit Distilling Co. in Shelbyville, Kentucky.

Perry Jones, President, North America Supply for Diageo, said:

“As a company we know that our long-term sustainable growth depends on reducing our reliance on fossil fuels that contribute to climate change. This groundbreaking undertaking to electrify our operations and then power them with renewable electricity will result in one of the largest carbon neutral distilleries in North America. This is a significant step to strengthen our commitment to minimizing our carbon emissions and will result in an important reduction of Diageo’s environmental impact on a global level.”

Sophie Kelly, SVP Whiskies, Diageo NA, added:

“For Bulleit, our passion for sustainability began when we built the Bulleit Distilling Co. in Shelbyville, where we focus on reducing carbon emissions, water conservation and waste management during production. Then, when we opened our Visitor Experience there, we chose to implement practices like eliminating single use plastics from our bar and sourcing locally-grown organic cocktail garnishes from our onsite garden. Our commitment to the environment evolves with the Lebanon distillery, where no fossil fuels will be consumed for the production of Bulleit. This allows us to really begin to double down on our ambition to reinvent category standards.”

The new facility will incorporate a variety of features that will result in avoiding more than 177,000 metric tons of carbon emissions annually – equivalent to taking more than 25,000 cars off the road for an entire year.  These features include:

Electrification of operations:

  • Electrode boilers will enable the avoidance of direct carbon emissions that would normally be generated by the use of fossil-fuel fired boilers. Electrode boilers also offer benefits that include reduced noise pollution and reduction of other air contaminants.
  • All vehicles operated onsite, including trucks and forklifts, will be electric, and charged onsite by renewable energy.
  • 100% of the steam used onsite – for the cooking, distillation and drying process – will be generated by the electrode boilers (which are powered by the renewable electricity)

Energy efficiency embedded into facility design:

  • Energy efficiency will be optimized in the new electric boilers
  • Exterior lighting will be solar powered
  • All onsite interior lighting will be light-emitting diode (LED)
  • Warehouse interior lighting will only activate during loading or unloading activities
  • Lowered roofs will minimize heating and cooling requirements

Sourcing renewable electricity:

  • Long term contracts with the local utility will allow for the purchase of zero greenhouse gas emission electricity from certified renewable sources.
  • Renewable electricity will be supplied by Inter-County Energy and East Kentucky Power Cooperative (EKPC).

Water savings design

  • Site is being designed to be industry-leading in efficiency and minimization of water usage

Zero waste to landfill

  • Once operational, the site is designed to minimize use of materials and waste through reuse and recycling, and any residual waste will not be sent to landfill

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear commented:

“I welcome Diageo’s commitment to carbon neutrality and using renewable electric at its Bulleit distillery in Lebanon. This is a notable example of a historic Kentucky industry embracing a new future. To continue the commonwealth’s economic recovery, attract business investment and create jobs for Kentuckians across all counties, it’s important we and our economic development partners provide a cost-competitive energy mix. Energy diversity is something more industries are considering when they choose where to locate, and offering the right mix will help us provide a brighter future for generations to come.”

Inter-County Energy will provide electric service to the Lebanon distillery. Inter-County Energy President and CEO Jerry Carter said:

“We want to extend a warm welcome as Diageo makes this valuable investment in Lebanon-Marion County,” said Jerry Carter, President and CEO of Inter-County Energy, which will provide electric service to the Lebanon distillery. “Inter-County Energy is proud to work in partnership with Diageo and East Kentucky Power Cooperative (EKPC) to understand the energy needs of this facility and to develop innovative ways to meet the sustainability goals of one of the largest renewable energy consumers in Kentucky.”