Home-Grown Botanicals to an Eco-Friendly Distillery: Symphonia’s Sustainable Journey Success.
As mentioned in our previous blog, the team at Symphonia Spirits were thrilled to be the recipients of a highly commended badge at the latest Footprint Drinks Sustainability Awards held in London. Since our inception in 2017, we have always kept a sharp focus on sustainability as a brand and strived to bring an eco-friendly spirit range to the market. As 2022 brings a welcome return to live events, we hope to maximize these events to engage, inform and reach a new audience interested in the important link between sustainability and the drinks industry. Read on to learn more about our brand ethos around sustainability, how we incorporate it into the Symphonia journey and the steps taken to become one of the lowest energy consumption distilleries in the world.
Sustainability is a buzz word in modern times. Climate change and our collective effort as a whole to be more sustainable and environmentally conscious is coming at a pivotal time.In October 2021, it once again became a topical issue as Cop 26 ( The UN Climate Change Conference) dominated headlines worldwide. Whilst food and beverage brands are now making positive changes to become more sustainable as brands, a 2020 Footprint Drinks Report found “there was a lot of work needed within the alcohol industry to tackle an energy intensive industry. The processing of fruits or grains and complex distilling processes require a good deal of energy, such as for the heating and cooling of stills etc. transportation of raw materials and finished goods, plus packaging and wastage all increase the carbon footprint of the industry.” In their findings they recognised it was “time to decarbonise, work towards science-based targets, embrace renewable energy and look at technological solutions to make the sector more energy efficient.”
Interestingly a 2019 report from Just Drinks conducted extensive consumer research and found consumers are now choosing sustainable and ethical brands when making purchasing decisions, “Consumer purchasing decisions are increasingly being based on brands’ environmental or social record. Withholding significant information or misreporting on these matters could be said to be every bit as reprehensible as misleading advertising.”
Symphonia Spirits have always striven to lead the sustainable drinks market by committing to the 4 P’s of our sustainable ethos; Product, Process, People and Planning.
From the fragrant juniper berries in our gin range to the materials used in our distillery, every element is sustainably sourced. All botanicals (herbs & berries) are foraged locally within 10km,our ethanol is the purest available and our juniper berries were sourced using specific scientific skills to find the most sustainable source with the same molecular fingerprint as those found in Ireland. In Ireland, juniper trees are recognised to be endangered so it was important to find a sustainable alternative elsewhere, whilst not compromising on taste. As well as sourcing fine ingredients, we honour sustainability in the distilling process by using only recycled glass as opposed to the copper normally found in distilleries.
This is our unique science led approach to bringing the Symphonia range to life in an energy-conscious manner.. We are the only distillery in the world to use a unique technique of cold distillation, hydrodistillation and molecular analysis, whilst using only 2% of the energy required for traditional distilling.
Cold distillation is, in essence, the process of extracting flavours in an energy efficient manner, whilst not compromising on quality. The process takes place in a glass allowing infusion to take place at lower temperatures, whilst also allowing for the distilling of each botanical at a temperature which best suits each one.
This is a perfect process for certain botanicals such as fresh basil where their flavour profile is preserved because high heat distillation would destroy the basil.
Hydrodistillation uses microwaves to “excite” the water molecule found within botanicals. This specific technique would be popular within the perfumery industry and it is what causes all the wonderful aromas and flavours to burst through.Who would have thought an overlap in the world of fragrance and alcohol would be found!
Molecular analysis is the interesting research which goes into the make-up of herbs and spices. This research can find notes of exotic flavours in everyday plants around us, for example, Indonesian Cubeb pepper being one such plant as it’s flavour profile is very similar to the dandelion flower.
Ingredients used in the apple rum range are the very essence of “home grown”, with the nutmeg and clove flavours being sourced from a bush in Ric’s garden.
Interpersonal relationships are key to Symphonia Spirits’ ethos, from building a relationship with stakeholders who hold sustainable values at heart, right through to the customers who are at the heart of the Symphonia journey. A sense of community in any business is an important foundation block and Symphonia is committed to supporting local community projects. At Christmas and on Mother’s Day, we collaborated with small businesses to create a gift pack featuring a symphonia flavoured candle and jam.
Building on the success of our latest accolade, we are striving to develop and create new initiatives to support our sustainable ethos. The long-term goal is to move to a carbon neutral distillery complete with orchards and botanical gardens for symphonia customers to tour and enjoy. We hope to continue to also support community initiatives from our current hub here in Benburb, Co. Tyrone by hosting local arts and cultural events.