Arbikie Highland Estate is a 400-year-old family farming business based on Scotland’s sunny east coast. In 2014, the Stirling brothers opened the Arbikie Distillery on the Estate with a plan to combine the best of farming and traditional distilling with innovation. Over the last few years, it has become clear that the focus is to make Arbikie one of the world’s most sustainable distilleries.
When the Stirling brothers set up Arbikie Distillery on their family farm on Scotland’s east coast in 2014, their plan was to combine the best of farming and traditional distilling with innovation. Over the last few years, it has become very clear to them and all the Arbikie team that their focus is to make Arbikie one of the world’s most sustainable distilleries.
Arbikie have a clear mission to become the global leader in a new category of single-estate, sustainable spirits. They were not satisfied with carbon-neutral, so they focused on distilling the world’s first climate-positive spirits. They achieved that goal with the launch of their climate positive, Nàdar Gin in early 2020. The brothers continue to set ambitious goals, but ones rooted in the commercial reality of building a business that retains family ownership, whilst also celebrating their family’s over 400-year farming heritage. The Stirling’s are building a long term, legacy business and so commerciality, balanced with sustainable considerations are at the forefront of their planning.
A zero-carbon distillery
Their six-year sustainable journey has been one of ongoing collaboration with partners, including the James Hutton Institute and Abertay University. Arbikie are a rare, field to bottle distiller as they grow what they need to distil on their own farms, whether barley, wheat, potatoes, peas and chillies, or botanicals like juniper, coriander, lemongrass, and limes. They have pioneered field to bottle distilling across a range of spirits, including gin and whisky, as this fits with their circular economy approach to minimising their environmental impact. The brothers are the latest custodians of the family farms and so are mindful to pass on a business with a
positive legacy to the next generation. They have adopted regenerative farming practices, minimising chemical inputs and are reviving heritage barley varieties; not only increasing crop diversity on the farm, but promoting regional differences and reviving traditional flavours in the resultant single malt whiskies.
Arbikie uses science to unlock distilling conundrums such as with Master Distiller, Kirsty Black distilling the world’s first climate- positive spirits as her PHD. Nàdar Gin was launched in 2020 following years of endeavour by Kirsty and partners, Dr Pete Iannetta at the James Hutton & Professor Graeme Walker at Abertay University
Distilled from peas, Nàdar is carbon-negative, avoiding the release of 1.54Kg of CO2 into the atmosphere. The aim is to deliver a zero-carbon distillery which can be replicated across the distillation industry and highlight the opportunities for the acceleration of the hydrogen economy. The Stirling brothers and the Arbikie team realise they are on a journey, with lots still to do, but their journey to Net Zero and beyond will be greatly helped by world leaders focusing on our climate change challenges at the recent COP26 in Glasgow, and beyond to COP27 in Africa.
Arbikie is involved in a number of climate-related projects, from partnering with ecoSPIRITS to remove single-use glass bottles from their supply chain, to implementing hydrogen as part of the UK Government’s Green Distillery competition. The aim is to deliver a zero-carbon distillery which can be replicated across the distillation industry and highlight the opportunities for the acceleration of the hydrogen economy. Arbikie will be opening our new Distillery Experience in Arbroath in April 2022 allowing visitors to come and experience what they do first-hand.
For information on Arbikie Distillery see: www.arbikie.com