David Attenborough may be 92 years old but he is still dominating the world stage, urgently warning the world of global catastrophe and a need for drastic change in behaviour to save the planet. If you’ve tuned in for ‘Our Planet’ on Netflix or read his speech for the IMF he provides a powerful rallying call to action with a message that we can all understand.
I’ve been in the spirits industry a fair few years now. In the early days no one was really highlighting the sustainable credentials (or otherwise) of their brands, so it’s impressive to witness how many now recognise the need to commit to minimising their environmental impact and to support conservation.
I’m in the very fortunate position of having a choice about which brands we represent in the UK. So, whether it’s because I love diving and the outdoors, or because I’ve got a family and want the best for their future, choosing brands with eco and ethical credentials has become a mission critical part of our selection process. There still has to be a great quality liquid that tastes great and looks amazing, but we now demand more, both as a business and as consumers. And, let’s face it, as the proportion of consumers that choose brands based on their ethics increases, as well as being planet-friendly it makes good commercial sense too.
We’re finding brands challenging themselves to improve at every stage of the production process – raw materials and use of sustainable ingredients, energy consumption, use of water and waste treatment, bottling and reducing plastic usage, worker standards and paying a fair price for a luxury product, recycling. Some are even helping rejuvenate the environment by funding support for endangered species.
So, here’s a big plug for our top ten ethically conscious spirits brands from the Mangrove portfolio, in alphabetical order!
- Avallen: with their #beepositive message, Avallen’s founders are focused on preserving bee populations around the world by donating €0.50 from the sale of each bottle to organisations dedicated to restoring and protecting bees. They’re also planting more than 100,000 wild flowers over the next three years, have a bottle which is one of the lightest on the market, have a label printed on recycled apple pulp paper with sustainable dye
- Black Cow Vodka: down on the Dorset coastline, the Black Vodka gurus are taking whey, a by-product of cheese making and turning it into premium vodka. Their latest strawberries and cream incarnation is using strawberries rejected by the supermarkets – and you can even avoid plastic consumption using one of their gold plated stainless steel straws
- Ceylon Arrack: The Rockland Distillery, home to Ceylon Arrack, is one of the greenest distilleries in the world, and one of the first to be awarded a LEED certificate (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) – they even grow their own trees and donate to nature conservation native Sri Lanka
- Don Q Rum: over in Puerto Rico, Don Q Rum operate the most eco-friendly and environmentally conscious distillery in the Caribbean, with a waste treatment facility and energy harvesting. If you’re drinking a fizzy drink from Puerto Rico, chances are it was made fizzy by waste CO2 provided to the country’s soft drinks manufacturers by Don Q
- Elephant Gin: with their vision to conserve wildlife focusing on the African Elephant, the founders of Elephant Gin give 15% of profits to Big Life Foundation, Space for Elephants and Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Africa and Kenya and have been awarded Positive Luxury’s Butterfly Mark in recognition of a company-wide commitment to sustainability
- FAIR: this human-centric organisation is the world’s leading independent, international brand of ethical, fairtrade spirits that sources natural ingredients from local farming communities across the globe. Sweet.
- Herradura Tequila: it has won more gold medals than any other tequila, but did you know team Herradura have at least 25million agave plants under cultivation at any one time to ensure a sustainable crop? Casa Herradura is an industry leader in effluent processing and water treatment, uses the waste agave fibres to improve the soil whilst recycling biogas in its boilers
- Kokoro Gin: 30 hectares of neglected woodlands have been restored to their natural state and now offer a thriving forest with endangered species returning once again. The owners have gifted the land back to the Japanese people to enjoy
- Montelobos Mezcal: the founder of Montelobos, Saldaña, was a biologist studying agave before he launched the brand so he knows a thing or two about conservation. Only farmed agave is used in the production process, waste is composted and the company’s parent company has invested in infrastructure and fixed fair pricing for farmers
- Pataka Ginger Liqueur: offers the only ginger liqueur made with fresh Fairtrade ginger root and 100% Fairtrade sugar and is dedicated to using only responsibly sourced ingredients. Happy days.
So there we have it. There is so much more to do. But next time you fancy enjoying a responsible drink, think sustainable. The more we demand a more sustainable focus both from our producers and ourselves the longer this gorgeous planet will be around for us to enjoy.
Nick Gillett, Managing Director, Mangrove UK. Mangrove UK manages over 20 global premium drinks brands in the UK.