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Suntory plans $4m peatland project

Beam Suntory and its parent company, Suntory Holdings, have pledged more than US$4 million to restore 1,300 hectares of peatlands by 2030.

Beam Suntory-Ardmore-distillery
The Peatland Water Sanctuary initiative will begin at the Ardmore distillery

Suntory Holdings and its spirits subsidiary, Beam Suntory, have launched the new Peatland Water Sanctuary initiative to ensure the long-term sustainability of Scotch whisky production.

“The Peatland Water Sanctuary initiative is inspired by Suntory’s Mizu to Ikiru (‘Living with Water’) promise, which is underpinned by our mission to create harmony with people and nature,” said Tak Niinami, CEO of Japan-based Suntory Holdings.

“We believe that water flowing through peatlands is suited for whisky production and by restoring and conserving peatlands we hope to not only contribute to preserving whisky production as an indispensable part of Scotland’s culture, but also fulfil our responsibility as a company that relies on the blessings of nature and water.”

The initiative is a ‘large-scale’ series of peatland restoration and conservation projects in Scotland, as well as watershed conservation projects. The move follows the company’s creation of natural water sanctuaries in both Japan and the US.

The conservation of 1,300 hectares of peatlands is enough to produce the same amount of peat that Beam Suntory harvests every year for its Scotch production.

Once peatland is restored, it naturally accumulates by 1mm annually, Suntory said.

The long-term aim of the Peatland Water Sanctuary initiative is to restore sufficient peatlands by 2040, equal to double the volume of peat that Beam Suntory harvests to make its Scotch whiskies.

First phase

The project will initially begin at the Ardmore distillery in November 2021, followed by other sites in Scotland in the coming years.

The first phase of the scheme will see nearly 15 hectares of peatland in the Ardmore Knockandy Hill north side slope restored, with more to follow in 2022. Restoration will also potentially include Malsach Burn Valley from next year.

Beam Suntory will partner with the James Hutton Institute and Forestry and Land Scotland on the Ardmore project.

The company is currently assessing projects in Islay, where its Bowmore and Laphroaig distilleries are located, along with plans for potential watershed activities near the firm’s Auchentoshan and Glen Garioch distilleries.

The initiative is in line with Suntory’s Sustainability Vision and Beam Suntory’s Proof Positive strategy.

David Hunter, chief supply chain officer, Beam Suntory, added: “As part of our Proof Positive sustainability strategy, we believe it’s our responsibility to make a positive impact on the environment in which we operate, which is why we are committing to restoring and conserving as much peat as we harvest by 2030, as well as conserving crucial watersheds across Scotland.

“By protecting peatlands and preserving local watersheds, we will also help to enhance and ensure the production of the highest quality whisky in Scotland for future generations.”

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