Monday, June 29, 2020

Diageo Says New Kentucky Distillery Will Be Carbon Neutral



(DIAGEO PRESS RELEASE) Diageo announced today that its new Kentucky whiskey distillery, which will distill Bulleit Bourbon and other brands, will be carbon neutral – one of the largest in North America, and a first for Diageo. Reinforcing Diageo’s global commitment to reducing its carbon emissions and addressing climate change, the site will be powered by 100 percent renewable electricity, with a capacity to produce up to 10 million proof gallons per year.

The new distillery, currently under construction in Lebanon, Kentucky, reflects Diageo’s commitment to achieving net-zero carbon emissions and moves the company closer to its goal of sourcing 100 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030. Employing electrode boilers, the site will utilize a mix of renewable electricity sources to power a 72,000 square-foot distillery, dry house, and warehousing facilities. As previously announced “The Diageo Lebanon Distillery” will have the capability to distill a variety of bourbon and American whiskey brands. Bulleit will be the first and lead brand produced at the new distillery – supplementing existing production at The Bulleit Distilling Co. in Shelbyville, Kentucky. This move will further strengthen the brand’s commitment to a more sustainable future.

“As a company we know that our long-term sustainable growth depends on reducing our reliance on fossil fuels that contribute to climate change,” said Perry Jones, President, North America Supply for Diageo. “This groundbreaking undertaking to electrify our operations and then power them with renewable electricity will result in one of the largest carbon neutral distilleries in North America. This is a significant step to strengthen our commitment to minimizing our carbon emissions and will result in an important reduction of Diageo’s environmental impact on a global level.”

“For Bulleit, our passion for sustainability began when we built the Bulleit Distilling Co. in Shelbyville, where we focus on reducing carbon emissions, water conservation and waste management during production. Then, when we opened our Visitor Experience there, we chose to implement practices like eliminating single use plastics from our bar and sourcing locally-grown organic cocktail garnishes from our onsite garden,” said Sophie Kelly, SVP Whiskies, Diageo NA. “Our commitment to the environment evolves with the Lebanon distillery, where no fossil fuels will be consumed for the production of Bulleit. This allows us to really begin to double down on our ambition to reinvent category standards.”

To achieve carbon neutrality at the site, Diageo plans to incorporate a variety of features that will avoid annual carbon emissions by more than 117,000 metric tons. This is the equivalent of taking more than 25,000 cars off the road for a year.


These features include:

Electrification of operations:

Electrode boilers avoid the direct carbon emissions that would normally be generated by the use of fossil-fuel fired boilers. Electrode boilers also offer benefits that include reduced noise pollution and reduction of other air contaminants. All vehicles operated onsite, including trucks and forklifts, will be electric, and charged onsite by renewable energy. One-hundred percent of the steam used onsite – for the cooking, distillation and drying process – will be generated by the electrode boilers.

Energy efficiency embedded into facility design: 

Energy efficiency will be optimized in the new electric boilers. Exterior lighting will be solar powered. All onsite interior lighting will be light-emitting diode (LED). Warehouse interior lighting will only activate during loading or unloading activities. Lowered roofs will minimize heating and cooling requirements.

Sourcing renewable electricity:

Long term contracts with the local utility will allow for the purchase of zero greenhouse gas emission electricity from certified renewable sources. Renewable electricity will be supplied by Inter-County Energy and East Kentucky Power Cooperative (EKPC).

Water savings design:

The site is designed to be industry-leading in efficiency and minimize water usage.

Zero waste to landfill:

Once operational, the site will minimize use of materials and waste through reuse and recycling, and any residual waste will not be sent to landfill.

A New Future

“I welcome Diageo’s commitment to carbon neutrality and using renewable electricity at its Bulleit distillery in Lebanon. This is a notable example of a historic Kentucky industry embracing a new future,” said Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear. “To continue the commonwealth’s economic recovery, attract business investment and create jobs for Kentuckians across all counties, it’s important we and our economic development partners provide a cost-competitive energy mix. Energy diversity is something more industries are considering when they choose where to locate, and offering the right mix will help us provide a brighter future for generations to come.”

“We want to extend a warm welcome as Diageo makes this valuable investment in Lebanon-Marion County,” said Jerry Carter, President and CEO of Inter-County Energy, which will provide electric service to the Lebanon distillery. “Inter-County Energy is proud to work in partnership with Diageo and East Kentucky Power Cooperative (EKPC) to understand the energy needs of this facility and to develop innovative ways to meet the sustainability goals of one of the largest renewable energy consumers in Kentucky.”

A Commitment to Sustainability

Committed to decarbonization with approved science-based targets, Diageo is part of a pioneering group of organizations that are championing a green recovery and supporting Sustainable Development Goals, through membership of the United Nations Global Compact, We Mean Business Coalition and other key global advocacy organizations. Also, as mentioned above, as a signatory to RE100, Diageo aims to source 100 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030. In addition, Diageo has signed onto the global Race to Zero campaign, a commitment to achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. The company recently joined over 150 multinationals to reaffirm our commitment to Science Based Targets and urge governments around the world to align their COVID-19 recovery efforts with the latest climate science.

Bulleit has a long-standing commitment to sustainability at their current distillery in Shelbyville, KY, which was recently honored with the title of ‘Highly Commended’ for Sustainable Distillery of the Year at Whisky Magazine’s 2020 Icons of Whisky American Awards. The Shelbyville site includes the first ever industrial solar array in Shelby County, and a focus on reducing their carbon footprint by sourcing local ingredients from local farmers.  In addition, Bulleit implemented thoughtful practices at the Visitor Experience, such as a partnership with the non-profit Oceanic Global to ensure its tasting experience and cocktail bar aligns with The Oceanic Standard (TOS), a badge and certification for venues that have adopted sustainable operating practices and are committed to eliminating single-use plastics.

Investing in Kentucky

Bulleit continues a strong trajectory of growth, with the brand continuing to gain share, and global volume up more than six percent year over year. Diageo broke ground on the $130 million distillery in July of 2019, and the site is expected to be fully operational in 2021. Once fully operational, the facility will employ 30 full-time team members. Since 2014, Diageo has invested more than $500 million in Kentucky. This facility will supplement the company’s other Kentucky operations: Stitzel-Weller in Louisville, and The Bulleit Distilling Company and Visitor Experience in Shelbyville.

Notes:

Carbon neutrality of Diageo’s new Lebanon, Kentucky distillery for all Scope 1 and 2 emissions from site operations will be achieved by Diageo in accordance with PAS 2060 for the period commencing with the first grain delivery to completion of distilling operations, certified by Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. View the PAS 2060 Qualifying Explanatory Statement. Through sourcing for renewable electricity and the electrification of operations, the site will only require residual amounts of carbon offsets to be purchased, associated with operational elements

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

New Reader Sets Its Sights Further South Than Usual


Fermenter being filled at Cascade Hollow Distillery, Tullahoma, TN
Whiskey history is weird, especially Tennessee whiskey history.

Tennessee whiskey is a modern creation with ancient roots and it's a whiskey many drinkers still struggle to understand.

For much of its history, "Jack Daniel's" and "Tennessee whiskey" have been synonymous. It didn't start out that way and with how things are going, it won't be that way much longer.

All of that is a tease for the new issue of The Bourbon Country Reader, which is out now.

I haven't published since February. Blame the pandemic. Anyway, it's back, and taking a deep dive into Tennessee whiskey.

Current Reader subscribers should receive their copies in a week or so. New subscribers can get on the bandwagon by clicking here.

Founded in 1993, The Bourbon Country Reader is the oldest publication devoted entirely to American whiskey. It is a charming mix of news, history, analysis, and product reviews. Do you worry that advertising spending influences coverage in other publications? No chance of that here since The Bourbon Country Reader is 100 percent reader-supported. It accepts no advertising.

To experience The Bourbon Country Reader for yourself, you need to subscribe. Honoring history, The Bourbon Country Reader still comes to you exclusively on paper, in an envelope, via the USPS.

A subscription to The Bourbon Country Reader is still a mere $20 per year for addresses in the USA, $25 for everyone else. The Bourbon Country Reader is published six times a year, more-or-less, but your subscription always includes six issues no matter how long it takes. For those of you keeping track, this new one is Volume 20, Number 1.

Click here to subscribe with PayPal or any major credit card, or for more information. Click here for a free sample issue (in PDF format). Click here to open or download the free PDF document, "The Bourbon Country Reader Issue Contents in Chronological Order." (It's like an index.)

If you want to catch up on what you've missed, bound back issue volumes are available for $20 each, or three for $50. That's here too.

If you prefer to pay by check, make it payable to Made and Bottled in Kentucky, and mail it to Made and Bottled in Kentucky, 3712 N. Broadway, PMB 298, Chicago, IL 60613-4198. Checks drawn on U.S. banks only, please.

Friday, May 15, 2020

How to Write a Business Book in 7 Easy Steps



(WARNING: NO BOURBON CONTENT)

In case you want to use your quarantine to write a business book, here is a primer.

1.  Give every idea a name. A new name makes an old idea new and by naming it, you make it yours. You can steal anything as long as you give it a new name.

2. Use lots of numbered lists. The top 3 this, the 4 worst that, the 8 biggest whatevers. The lists should be short, never more than ten items, but the number of different lists you can have is unlimited.

3. Repeat your central thesis constantly. Say it the same way and say it different ways, but say it again and again. (If you don't have a central thesis yet, see point number 1 above.)

4. Say everything important in the first 20 pages, because most readers won't get any further, and more importantly no reviewer will get any further. Then restate everything as often as necessary until you reach the contracted page count.

5. Give lots of supporting examples. They are good for filling space. Feel free to make them up.

6. Set up a lot of strawmen. Knock them down with vigor.

7. Seduce the reader. The most important person your book describes should be the person reading it. The world revolves around them. They are indispensable. Know your reader. Stroke your reader.
.

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Some Disturbing News in the Rush to Produce Sanitizer Products


ERC Midwest delivering 110 gallons of Koval's hand sanitizer to Metropolitan Family Services in Chicago.
One of the upbeat, people-helping-people stories of the coronavirus crisis is the many distilleries, large and small, that have been making hand sanitizer and other sanitizing products, typically donating them to first responders and other needy groups. Koval, a Chicago craft distillery in my neighborhood, is one of them.

Koval makes whiskey but it also makes neutral spirits, i.e., vodka, so they are using their own distillate to make sanitizer. This most recent batch was distilled from 15,000 gallons of beer donated by local craft breweries such as Metropolitan and Begyle. Most craft distilleries aren't equipped to distill out at a high enough proof so they are making sanitizer from ethanol they have acquired from industrial ethanol producers. I wrote about this here a couple weeks ago.

Some problems are emerging. On April 15, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued limits on certain chemicals permitted in alcohol-based sanitizer, updating a temporary guidance it adopted last month as the health crisis deepened and more manufacturers registered to produce sanitizing products. The FDA has notified several ethanol companies that their product does not meet safety standards, forcing them to halt production and cancel supply agreements. In one case, the FDA said it found significant levels of the carcinogen acetaldehyde in ethanol supplied by a company for use in hand sanitizer.

The problem appears to be with producers who have switched from making ethanol for fuel, which is going begging, to making it for sanitizer. It may not be food grade, which is what distilleries typically buy. As FDA says in its guidance, "because of the potential for the presence of potentially harmful impurities due to the processing approach, fuel or technical grade ethanol should only be used if it meets USP or FCC grade requirements and the ethanol has been screened for any other potentially harmful impurities not specified in the USP or FCC requirements."

As the producer, it is up to you to do the due diligence. Don't trust the manufacturer's word. A midwestern craft distiller I know (not Koval) told me this:

"We get a dozen calls/emails a day from ethanol plants and dealers trying to sell us tankers at a great price. Not a single one has provided a COA (Certificate of Analysis) or SDS (Safety Data Sheet) that shows their levels of methanol and acetaldehyde are within the allowable amounts. Stop falling for it, folks. Follow the guidelines from the FDA and use beverage grade and USP-certified stuff before you hurt someone or give us all a bad name."

The American Craft Spirits Association (ACSA) and the Distilled Spirits Council (DISCUS) both have great resources available on this topic, and both recommend getting independent certification before you use. If you can’t certify, don’t use.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Grandma Schwartz's Kuchen Recipe


A strawberry kuchen, made today by my cousin John.
Lots of people are baking during the quarantine. Sourdough bread is popular. Here is something a bit different: fruit kuchen.

"Kuchen" is simply the German word for "cake," but it usually refers to a coffee cake. In my family, kuchen was the specialty of my great grandma Schwartz.

About Grandma Schwartz:

Celia Chrysenthia (Kinkelaar) Schwartz was my maternal great-grandmother, born in 1883 in Cleveland. I grew up with her and was well into adulthood when she passed at 101 in 1984. (We drank Wild Turkey 101 in her honor at the wake.)

She was, as you can imagine, a tough old bird. She was a big fan of the Cleveland Indians and was older than the franchise. She preferred to listen to games on the radio rather than watch them on television, only in part because of her failing eyesight. She just liked it better. Being frugal, she would often listen in the dark, sitting very close to the radio because her hearing wasn't that great either. When we went to visit her, we often had to peer through the windows to see if she was home because she couldn't hear the doorbell. I would look for the little red light on the radio.

In 1967 she was 84 and the last member of the family still living in Cleveland. Her closest living relation was her eldest daughter, Edna, my grandmother. She and her rather large family, which included me, lived in Mansfield, which is about 60 miles south of Cleveland. That year, we moved Grandma Schwartz from Cleveland to Mansfield. Literally, about 20 of us (including we kids who were old enough) drove up there, loaded a truck and several cars, and brought her and her belongings down to Mansfield.

There she had her own apartment close enough to church for her to walk there, which she did daily for mass. She also volunteered in the school cafeteria. Her family all chipped in to pay her rent and other expenses. In return, she baked.

She insisted on doing it, and one did not argue with Grandma Schwartz.

For years, she kept each family well supplied with her kuchen and occasionally cookies. Some of the kuchen was conventional cinnamon coffee cake, but she also made fruit kuchen, which was baked in a pie pan and custard-like. It was unique. I never had anything quite like it before or since. Her other specialty was hot German potato salad.

About this recipe:

This is not grandma's recipe. It was inspired by my memory of her kuchens. It is based on a recipe for plum clafouti. I tried it because I had some plums to use and was surprised by how much it resembled Grandma’s fruit kuchen. Just about any baking fruit will work. Grandma usually used apples and occasionally cherries. She used pitted cherries but doing some research I learned that there is a cherry clafouti tradition in France that leaves the pits in, which I prefer. You just have to eat carefully. Apples should be peeled and sliced thin. Plums cut into quarters or eighths, depending on size. Likewise strawberries.

We always had it for breakfast but it is also suitable for dessert. You can dust the finished kuchen with powdered sugar if you’d like, but Grandma Schwartz did not.

Ingredients:

Fruit (e.g., applies, cherries, plums, blueberries, etc.), enough for one layer
5 tbsp sugar
4 eggs
½ cup milk
Pinch salt
Pinch cinnamon
¼ tsp vanilla
½ cup flour

Directions:

Pre-heat the oven to 375°. Grease a pie pan and sprinkle 1 tbsp sugar on the bottom. Add the fruit, spreading evenly. Sprinkle 1 tbsp sugar on the fruit. In a bowl, combine the remaining sugar, eggs, milk, salt, cinnamon, vanilla, and flour. Beat well and pour into the pan. The batter should not quite cover the fruit. Bake 50 to 60 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool to room temperature before serving.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Infinity Bottles, from Order to Anarchy



The so called "infinity bottle" started out as a way to consolidate the last little bit of multiple open bottles into a single container, to reduce the number of open bottles in your collection. The idea was that you would then put that bottle into your rotation, drink from it from time to time, and add to it whenever you again had a bottle with just a little bit left. That's how it started, but what has it become?

In his January 2017 "Punch" article, Aaron Goldfarb called the infinity bottle "a phenomenon among whiskey nerds." He traced its formal origins to a Ralfy Mitchell video from 2012, although Mitchell used the term 'solera bottle,' a reference to the way sherry is produced. Already the dichotomy was set. A solera is a very deliberate system, a form of fractional blending that results in a product made up of liquids that have spent different amounts of time in wood. An infinity bottle may be made that way, or it may be a random thing, essentially a housekeeping exercise, a product created entirely by chance.

People can do whatever they want, of course, but if you want to call it an infinity bottle, it probably should have something infinite about it. it's not an infinity bottle unless you are constantly drinking from and adding to it. Which means it's constantly changing.

Then the question becomes, do you try to control those changes, or just let them happen? For some people, order simply comes in the form of logging the additions, so you know what the bottle contains. This can be especially useful if the bottle seems to go south on you suddenly, you'll want to know what was the last thing you added.

Some people religiously add the last few ounces of every bottle they finish. Still others contribute the first few ounces of every bottle they open. Others just let it happen and don't fuss about it too much.

As with Ralfy's solera bottle, you can also try your hand at blending, using the same techniques professional blenders use. That's a house blend, not an infinity bottle, but people are going to use terms they like to describe the things they want to do, and 'infinity bottle' seems to be a popular term right now even if it is being used to describe projects that vary widely.

Do I have an infinity bottle? Sort of. My travel flask is a kind of infinity bottle. If I don't finish it on a trip, the next time I go somewhere I top it off with something I have open. It is what it is. For the most part, if everything you put in is something you like, then the mixture probably will be likable too. I haven't been disappointed.

Monday, April 13, 2020

Why Are We So Dumb About Alcohol and Sex?



It's hard to say exactly when the bourbon boom began, but the year 2000 is as good a marker as any. The revival that began in Japan and other overseas markets had reached America and the sales needle, moribund for more than two decades, began to move in a solidly positive direction.

With the growth in bourbon sales came a growth in interest in the subject itself. People wanted to learn more about bourbon. I published my first book, Bourbon, Straight, in 2004. A few people, like Gary Regan, preceded me. A whole bunch of people followed. Although there are a few clunkers, most of the books are pretty good. Publications such as Whisky Advocate, Whisky Magazine, Bourbon Plus, Bourbon Review, Imbibe, and others, also provide generally reliable information. Suffice it to say that today anyone seeking bourbon knowledge does not want for resources.

Yet misinformation persists. You don't need to spend much time on any bourbon-centric social media site to see it on display. People ask basic questions they could easily answer with a Google search. Instead they ask their community, which responds with cascades of wrongness. It's not every time or everywhere, but there is an awful lot of it. And this is among people who identify as bourbon enthusiasts.

It is so widespread I often think I have accomplished nothing in my 30 years of writing and speaking about this subject. Why has so little of it sunk in? I have concluded that some of it is inherent in the subject matter, as I wrote in the introduction to Bourbon, Straight. (Which is still available, by the way, either here or from Amazon.)

"Like sex, alcohol is one of those subjects where much of what people think they know is wrong. The similarities do not end there. Both subjects are laden with taboos, not least of which is their unsuitability for children. Perhaps that is the reason for such wide-spread ignorance about both. We don’t learn much about them as children and as adults, we don’t learn anything very well.

"What we do learn about both subjects growing up often is contradictory. Our parents and teachers tell us one thing, our peers tell us something else. Sex education, fortunately, has improved a lot in recent decades. Alcohol education not so much."

Now I would sum it up more succinctly. Sex and alcohol are subjects we mostly learn about informally, on the street, not in school. And most of what we think we know about both subjects is wrong.

So the fact that so many people believe so many wrong things about American whiskey, and alcoholic beverages in general, used to frustrate me. Then I realized that there continue to be people who seek the knowledge, who will buy the books, who want to learn, and I can contribute to that. If the overall state of knowledge continues to be poor, we're doing all we can. Focus on the people who seek the knowledge, not those who don't. (hint, hint.)

I can also say, with confidence, that the more you know, the more fun it is, with alcohol and sex.