Energy efficiency

Another Scottish distillery goes green

29 Jul 2014



• Balmenach Distillery is the third Scottish distillery to benefit from Green Investment Bank funding.

The UK Green Investment Bank (GIB) has today announced a further investment in the Scottish drinks industry.

The project at Balmenach distillery in Speyside will be financed from the £5m of funding announced by GIB last month. The distillery will also be making a capital contribution to put in place the new infrastructure needed to support the project. Two distilleries, Tomatin Distillery (near Inverness) and Aberfeldy Distillery (in Perthshire) have already benefited from the new finance available from GIB. Tomatin Distillery has now reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by around 80% and significantly cut its fuel costs.

The project at Balmenach, like Tomatin and Aberfeldy, will replace the distillery’s  heavy fuel oil boiler with a biomass boiler. As the distillery is in a remote part of the Scottish Highlands, and therefore not on the National Grid, heavy fuel oil has been used to meet its energy needs.

The new boiler will reduce the distillery’s energy costs and their greenhouse gas emissions, providing cost-effective renewable energy with limited up-front capital investment. The boiler will be used to produce steam necessary for the whisky production processes.

The distillery traces its origins back to 1824, making it one of the oldest distilleries in Speyside. The distillery was closed in 1993, but was bought in 1998 by Inver House Distillers Group, which is owned by ThaiBev, a leading Asian drinks business. The premium gin brand, Caorunn, is also produced at Balmenach.

Rob Cormie, Group Operations Director, UK Green Investment Bank, said:

I am very pleased that we have been able to make another investment at a Scottish distillery, just a few weeks after we announced that we were making £5m available to fund these investments.

Projects like this provide a sustainable supply of renewable energy and save distilleries money and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. With limited capital investment, distilleries can save money from day one whilst also helping to meet the industry’s ambitious green targets.

Highland MP Danny Alexander said:

I am hugely proud of the benefits the Highlands has seen from the Green Investment Bank so far. This latest investment will give a welcome boost to our most important export industry. With continued investment in Highland distillers we can ensure that while the quality of the product remains high, the carbon footprint of production is low. I look forward to seeing the GIB take on even more investments in the Highlands over the coming months and years.

Geoff Jackson, CEO, Equitix, commented:

By funding the costs of biomass boilers into whisky distilleries, Equitix is helping the sector achieve considerable carbon savings as well as reducing the costs of the distillery's energy bills.

The UK Government has set high targets for the reduction of carbon emissions and Equitix is able to contribute to businesses' efforts to reduce their carbon outputs. We work in conjunction with our partners to develop strategies aligned with our clients' interests and will continue to effect these within the distillery sector.

Ernest Kidney, Managing Director, Balcas commented:

We all have a responsibility to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and Balmenach Distillery is taking a proactive step that will help them cut their fuel overheads as well as ensure security of supply. We look forward to working with Balmenach Distillery to install our integrated energy solution and help them reduce their impact on the environment.

Balmenach is the third distillery to opt for our renewable biomass steam boiler and we are pleased to say that there has been significant interest from other distilleries, as well as industrial and commercial organisations, who want to cut their carbon emissions by up to 90% and make immediate cost savings


Tel: +44 20 3037 4014

Notes to editors

About the project

  • Environmental impact: Reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of 5,000 t CO2e per year, equivalent to taking over 2,200 cars off the road
  • Energy generation: 18,000MWh heat will be produced each year, meeting all of the distillery’s heating needs.
  • Feedstock: Sustainably sourced wood pellet fuel. The pellets are manufactured by Balcas using renewable energy and raw materials sourced from local, sustainably managed forests at their plant at Invergordon. The pellets are provided by Balcas as part of the project, so the distillery does not need to pay for these separately.
  • Cost saving: c. 30% reduction in energy costs.
  • Boiler capacity: 4 MW
  • Boiler manufacturer: Vyncke
  • Installation: Work has begun on site and the boiler is being manufactured.
  • Expected Commission date: Q1 2015
  • Developer: Balcas
  • Operations and maintenance: Balcas

UK Green Investment Bank

The UK Green Investment Bank was launched in November 2012.  With £3.8 billion of funding from the UK Government, it is the first bank of its kind in the world.  It is a "for profit" bank, whose mission is to accelerate the UK's transition to a greener economy, and to create an enduring institution, operating independently of Government.


The ESI fund forms part of GIB's allocation of investment into Non-Domestic Energy Efficiency (NDEE), one of its priority sectors. GIB awarded the competitive mandate to Equitix to invest £50 million, matched by private investors, to drive investment in small-scale low carbon infrastructure.


Equitix is a company established to deliver and manage infrastructure projects from bidding and closing through to construction and service provision. Its reputation is built upon strong relationships with its clients and partners, as well as a committed approach to every project in which they are involved and investment they make.


Balcas is the largest manufacturer of wood pellet fuel in the British Isles.  It will supply the Tomatin distillery from its plant at Invergordon, Ross-shire.  At Invergordon biomass is combusted in a Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plant, and the emerging steam is condensed to drive an electrical generator.  The residual heat is used to reduce the moisture content of locally sourced woodfibre that is processed into high-energy fuel pellets. All of the electrical and thermal energy used in the process are therefore from renewable sources.  Balcas' wood pellets that are marketed under the company's "brites" brand, providing energy to displace 100 million litres of oil per year, reducing carbon emissions by 300,000 tonnes.

International Beverage Holdings

International Beverage Holdings Limited is one of the industry’s most dynamic global drinks businesses. Established in 2006 as the international arm of ThaiBev, the company specialises in developing distinctive, premium local brands for global growth, with a portfolio that is led by a range of high quality Scotch whiskies and includes some of the fastest growing and most prestigious beers, spirits and whiskies on the market today. These high quality brands are enjoyed by consumers in over 85 global markets and include:

• Chang, Thailand’s iconic global beer brand

• Single Malt Scotch Whiskies: Old Pulteney, Balblair, anCnoc, Speyburn

• Blended Scotch Whiskies: Hankey Bannister, Catto’s, MacArthur’s

• Caorunn, a super premium small batch distilled Scottish Gin infused with 5 Celtic botanicals

• Thai spirits: Phraya, Mekhong

International Beverage’s international operation is headquartered in Hong Kong, with two major bases in China and Scotland and a growing number of regional hubs around the world. The business is focused on the delivery of winning investment, sales and marketing strategies, International Beverage is committed to producing brands of character, representing the care and craftsmanship of the people that make them - from the brewers of Chang Beer in Thailand, to the distillers of the fine single malt Scotch whisky Old Pulteney in Scotland. Crucially, the global development of every brand continues to be rooted in its home territory, supporting the company’s mission to build authentic brands of outstanding character.

International Beverage is investing in ambitious growth across its global operation, employing over 850 highly skilled people across production, sales, marketing and finance, together forming an effective and expert international team.