Speyside distillery invests in climate change research project

A SPEYSIDE DISTILLERY has revealed plans to provide a £4000 grant in support of research into combating the effect of climate change on distillery water resources.

Chivas Brothers say that their project, delivered in partnership with the University of Aberdeen and the James Hutton Institute, will allow one PhD student the chance to embark on a four-year studentship with the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC).

The aim will be to assist in identifying natural solutions to reduce the impact of water scarcity and rising water temperatures during prolonged warm and dry periods.

The Scotch whisky industry critically depends on a sustainable and good quality water supply – pure Scottish mineral water is one of three ingredients used in the malting, mashing and cooling processes, and also when diluting the spirit to reduce its alcoholic strength to the desired level. This research aims to identify solutions to preserve this key ingredient.

Gordon Buist, Production Director at Chivas Brothers, said: “There are three ingredients that go into creating a single malt Scotch whisky – malted barley, yeast and water – and each is incredibly important to developing the depth of flavour and quality unique to The Glenlivet.

“By supporting this key research we hope to improve water management strategies, to the benefit of the entire Scotch whisky industry.

“As part of the project, we will support the student by providing them with the opportunity to work with our experienced environmental and sustainability team at The Glenlivet distillery, including access to a wide range of training, expertise and laboratory facilities.”

Throughout the project, the student will complete field research on the water catchment areas at The Glenlivet distillery in Moray to test the effectiveness of novel solutions to manage water flow.

They will become an integral part of Chivas Brothers’ environmental sustainability team and receive a full range of training including a course on distillation processes and distillery water requirements. Research and development of mathematical models to help identify the best locations to manage water flow for other distilleries will be carried out at The University of Aberdeen, with the support of the James Hutton Institute.

Dr. Josie Geris, Lecturer in Hydrology at the School of Geosciences, University of Aberdeen, said: “We are pleased to be working with Chivas Brothers and the James Hutton Institute.

“This project provides a unique opportunity for a research student to gain real world experience out in the field and identify solutions that will greatly benefit the whisky industry in the long term.”