The maker of Johnnie Walker and Bell's Scotch whisky is investing £4m
in a major environmental project at one of the world's biggest distilleries.
Diageo's Billy Mitchell assesses water quality at Cameronbridge Distillery
The project at Cameronbridge Distillery at Windygates, Fife, promises to
transform the initial stages of the distillery's production process.
The owner, Diageo, said the change would deliver several environmental benefits and save £500,000 a year.
Distillery manager Billy Mitchell said the move was a significant one.
He added: "We are borrowing a technology from breweries and adapting it to improve our energy efficiency and competitiveness.
"This system will change the way we handle our raw materials so we can
dramatically reduce our energy usage as well as the amount of water we need to
turn into whisky."
The distilling process at Cameronbridge uses large amounts of energy in the
form of steam to cook the cereals that are its source of fermentable sugars.
The new development will replace the cooking process with mills that will
crack the hard grain open to enable the starch inside to be converted to sugar.
The process will increase the amount of spirit that can be produced from each
ton of grain and, by converting from steam energy to electricity, is expected to save nearly £500,000 per year in costs.
Mr Mitchell said: "Because of our knowledge of distilling and the flexibility of what we do here, Cameronbridge has grown to become the largest plant of its type within
Diageo and the industry worldwide.
"This new development and the investment we are making will enable us to improve our competitiveness still further."
Cameronbridge was built on the banks of the River Leven in 1823 by the famous
Haig distilling family.
Originally producing a Lowland malt whisky using the single-batch traditional copper pot stills, it was the first major distillery to switch to the newly-developed continuous still in the 1820s which led to the rise of blended whisky.
The distillery was progressively expanded and upgraded over the next 170 years and continued to produce the grain whisky used to create Diageo's leading brands of blended Scotch whisky such as Johnnie Walker, J&B and Bell's.
It also produces Smirnoff Vodka and Gordon's Gin and in the late 1990s the
company transferred all its UK gin and vodka production to Cameronbridge and
this significantly increased the size of the distillery and the complexity of