Fife distillery leading the way in what it hopes others will follow, by cutting out packaging

​A family-owned spirits business has made the bold move to phase out its presentation boxes and cartons from across its whisky brands as a major step towards it reaching net zero carbon emissions.
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​The commitment by Wemyss Family Spirits, which owns and operates Kingsbarns Distillery near St Andrews as well as Wemyss Malts, will result in the saving of more than a tonne of carbon each year, as the independent business sets out to become one of the greenest in the sector.

William Wemyss, who founded the business in 2005, believes the move is a milestone in the company’s journey towards true sustainability.

He said: “From day one we wanted to create a spirits business that acted with real stewardship and care for the environment.

Kingsbarns Distillery are to cut back on their packaging.Kingsbarns Distillery are to cut back on their packaging.
Kingsbarns Distillery are to cut back on their packaging.

“That came from an innate sense of responsibility. For instance, 100% of the electricity consumed at our Kingsbarns and Darnley’s Gin distilleries and visitor centres come from our own hydro schemes.

“We also try to source our ingredients as locally as possible, from Fife Barley for our whisky to botanicals foraged from the East Neuk shoreline and grown in our expanded cottage garden.

“Removing cartons and boxes from our products will have a huge impact and was a logical next step for us to continue our green pathway.

“Consumers are rightly demanding more sustainable products so we’re hoping they’ll be receptive to the decision.”

Following an initial trial, 15% of sales went cartonless in 2023. This will be greatly expanded in 2024, with the shipping of its bottles being protected with recycled and recyclable card dividers.

The business’s sustainability strategy includes waste management, with by-products of the processes at Darnley’s and Kingsbarns distilleries repurposed for animal feed and other agricultural uses. More recently, its sales team has moved to 100% electric car use.

Wemyss Family Spirits is set for major expansion across 2024, with work to start on 12 bonded warehouses and a bottling plant in Glenrothes, with an increase in the bottling of whisky produced at Kingsbarns, which will celebrate its 10th anniversary later this year.

William added: “It’s a hugely exciting time for our spirits businesses. We are now applying real focus on the next steps with the aim of reaching net zero ahead of both industry and UK targets.

“We want to be recognised locally and internationally for being one of the world’s greenest spirits companies and we believe we’ve all the capabilities to be that.”

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