Diageo has announced the opening of its second massive distillery in Kentucky in the last four years. In March 2017 Diageo opened the Bulleit Distilling Co. in Shelbyville, Kentucky, an ultra-modern distillery in the heart of bourbon country. In mid-2019 they added a visitor center and joined the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.
Now, just a few years later it’s opened a second even more advanced and even larger distillery, the Diageo Lebanon Distillery in Lebanon, Kentucky. The new distillery has the capacity to produce up to 10 million proof gallons of spirits per year making it one of the largest distilleries in North America. For comparative purposes the Bulleit Distilling Co. is now making up to 4.2 million proof gallons per year.
New Diageo Distillery is its First Carbon Neutral Distillery in North America
The new 72,000 square-foot Diageo Lebanon Distillery has begun distilling Bulleit Bourbon using electrode boilers that are powered by 100% renewable electricity throughout the cooking, distillation, and dry house processes. The distillation process begins using all locally sourced non-GMO corn. The site is operated with 30 full-time employees.
Bulleit Whiskey is the first and lead brand being produced at the distillery and supplements existing production at the nearby Bulleit Distilling Co.
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Designed with sustainability at its core, the distillery is built to ensure that fossil fuels are not used during production. By partnering with Inter-County Energy and East Kentucky Power Cooperative (EKPC), Diageo is sourcing a mix of wind and solar energy to power the electrode boilers, onsite electric vehicles, internal and external lighting and equipment making the facility one of the largest of its kind in North America. The site has implemented virtual metering technology to advance visibility of water, electricity, and steam usage, collecting key data that is used to drive the company’s resource efficiency and sustainability. These technologies will allow the Diageo Lebanon Distillery to avoid approximately more than 117,000 metric tons1 of carbon emissions annually, the equivalent of taking more than 25,000 cars off the road for a year2.
“Two years ago, we set a vision and commitment to build our first carbon neutral distillery in North America. Now that the Diageo Lebanon Distillery is operational, I’m incredibly proud of the innovative actions from our teams and partners to fully electrify the facilities and power them with renewable electricity. This is a significant step in our journey to create a low carbon future and be part of the solution to tackle the ongoing climate crisis,” said Perry Jones, President, North America Supply for Diageo.
In addition to the sustainability features of the new facility, Diageo implemented an optimized staffing model consisting of Bourbon Production Experts (BPE’s) responsible for all aspects of distillery, dry house, and operations. By rotating the BPE’s through each operational area to ensure depth of knowledge and flexibility, Diageo aims to accelerate the development of future leaders, ensuring a focus on gender equity and diversity to help shape the industry.
“At Bulleit, we believe we have a responsibility to our environment, our communities, and our planet. We are proud to initiate the production of Bulleit Bourbon at the carbon neutral Lebanon Distillery, as we take a significant step forward in the brand’s long-lasting commitment to sustainability,” said Sophie Kelly, SVP Whiskies, Diageo North America.
Bulleit Brand’s Continued Commitment to Sustainability
Bulleit has a long-standing commitment to sustainability and reducing its carbon footprint at the existing distillery in Shelbyville, Kentucky, which was honored with the award of Highly Commended for Sustainable Distillery of the Year at Whisky Magazine’s2020 Icons of Whisky American Awards.
- In 2021, the brand committed an annual $25,000 grant to support Kentucky State University students in the Master of Agriculture Sciences in Environmental Studies program for the next five years, helping build a pipeline of diverse talent into the spirits industry by supporting the sustainability leaders of tomorrow.
- Bulleit recently partnered with American Forests to plant one million trees by 2025, providing a variety of environmental benefits including carbon sequestration, air purification, water conservation, and providing vital wildlife habitat.
- The Bulleit Distilling Co. production is a zero waste to landfill site.
- The Bulleit Visitor Experience includes a partnership with the non-profit Oceanic Global to ensure its tasting experience and cocktail bar aligns with The Oceanic Standard (TOS) a certification for venues that have adopted sustainable operating practices and are committed to eliminating single-use plastics.
Diageo’s Plan to Building a Low Carbon Future
Combatting climate change and its associated impacts is at the heart of Diageo’s‘Society 2030: Spirit of Progress’ action plan. The company has already halved the carbon emissions associated with its operations since 2008 and is now working to reach net-zero carbon across its direct operations by 2030, harnessing 100% renewable energy. As part of its action plan, Diageo is developing site-by-site roadmaps and is also working to achieve net-zero carbon across the entire supply chain by 2050 or sooner, with an interim milestone to achieve a 50% reduction by 2030.
Building on a long track-record of environmental, social and governance (ESG) progress globally, Diageo is now in the top 1000 companies in the world taking action to address climate change in a science-led and systemic way. The company’s goals in this space have been calculated in accordance with the principles of Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) and recently validated as meeting the criteria for the 1.5oC pathway.
Diageo is part of a pioneering group of organizations that are championing a green recovery and supporting the Sustainable Development Goals, through membership of the United Nations Global Compact, We Mean Business Coalition and other key global advocacy organizations. As a signatory to RE100, Diageo aims to source 100% 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 or earlier. In North America, the company joined the Renewable Thermal Collaborative to share best practices and work together to scale up renewable thermal energy.
Diageo brands include Johnnie Walker, Crown Royal, Bulleit and Buchanan’s whiskies, Smirnoff, Cîroc and Ketel One vodkas, Casamigos, DeLeon and Don Julio tequilas, Captain Morgan, Baileys, Tanqueray and Guinness.
Is ‘Diageo Lebanon Distillery’ on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail?
As of right now the new Diageo Lebanon Distillery does not have a visitor center and has no plans to build a visitor center or to become part of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. Bulleit Bourbon fans interested in a tour can visit the Bulleit Distilling Co. location in Shelbyville or the Stitzel-Weller Distillery in downtown Louisville.
1 Both direct and indirect carbon emissions – comprising over 35,000 metric tons direct emissions, and over 82,000 metric tons of indirect emissions of CO2-eq
2 According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator)