Top 10 B Corp-certified spiritsBy Melita Kiely
There has been a recent influx of brands securing B Corp certification following their commitment to sustainability. We explore 10 brands leading the way to a greener future.
B Corp certification is about more than a company’s green credentials; to gain the accreditation, businesses are assessed on their entire social and environmental impact.
The certification is awarded by B Lab, a non-profit network striving to transform the global economy to benefit people, communities and the planet.
March marks B Corp Month, an annual celebration of certified B Corporations around the world.
A number of spirits producers around the globe have reached the required standard to be B Corp-certified, and to celebrate B Corp Month, we take a look at 10 of those brands building a better, more sustainable future.
In February 2022, Scotch whisky distillery Nc’nean achieved its B Corp status. The distillery excelled in each of B Lab’s five key areas of assessment: governance, workers, community, environment and customers. The average UK score is 88 – but Nc’nean hit 135.6.
In July 2021, Nc’nean became the first net-zero whisky distillery in the UK. Its 2020 carbon footprint was the first to be verified by Environmental Strategies as net zero in the UK.
Calvados brand Avallen joined the B Corp-certified world in January 2022, praised for its social and environmental endeavours. Launched in 2019, the brand has been a champion of sustainability since its inception.
Its B Corp certification was awarded due to its impact-led production methods, use of three ingredients (apples, water, and time) and eco-friendly packaging (recycled glass bottles and apple pulp labels).
Furthermore, Avallen works to reduce inequality, lower levels of poverty, create a healthier environment, stronger communities, and high-quality jobs with ‘dignity and purpose’.
Lixir tonic water
Leading the B Corp certification way for tonics and mixers is Lixir, which became the first premium brand to receive the accreditation in November 2022.
Newcastle-based Lixir was founded by bartending duo Matt Mahatme and Jordan Palmer in 2018. The B Corp status was awarded due to the brand being certified carbon neutral in 2021, and its partnership with Just a Drop, a charity helping to bring clean and safe water, and sanitation solutions to communities worldwide.
For every case of Lixir sold, 100 litres of clean water are donated.
It was a ground-breaking moment when Bruichladdich was certified, as it was the first single malt Scotch whisky distillery to attain the accreditation – and the first whisky and gin company in Europe. The Islay-based distillery received the certification in May 2020.
Bruichladdich has set aside land to research sustainable agriculture and intends to de-carbonise its operations by 2025.
Douglas Taylor, chief executive of Bruichladdich, said at the time: “Being a certified B Corp business is validation that the transparent, sustainable, community-minded business we’ve been running since 2001 is a worthwhile project.”
When Warner’s Distillery achieved B Corp certification in October 2022, it was the 10th distillery in the UK to join the growing B Corp-certified crowd. Founded in 2012, the gin producer stressed how sustainability was more than just “lip service” for the brand.
“As the spirit of the British countryside, sustainability really is at the heart of everything we do, it’s not just lip service for us,” noted Tom Warner, founder and chief executive officer. “We believe in doing the right thing, by people and the planet. That’s why we craft our spirits in harmony with nature, at our home on Falls Farm in rural Northamptonshire.”
Also achieving its B Corp certification in October last year was Baileys – which was the largest brand to receive the award at the time. The Diageo-owned brand joined the 5,500 B Corp-certified businesses worldwide.
The cream liqueur brand scored highest on impact areas ‘workers’ and ‘environment’. Since 2022, 75% of the Baileys leadership team are women, and all Baileys employees have access to benefits such as six months of paid annual leave for new parents.
Jennifer English, global brand director for Baileys, said: “While this is an important milestone for Baileys, we know that there is more we can do. We are already looking forward to the delivery of more initiatives as we journey towards our 2030 commitments.”
Agave spirits are in high demand at present – and it was great to see Mijenta lead the way with sustainability, as it became the first Tequila to receive B Corp certification.
Founded by ex-Bacardi CEO Mike Dolan, Mijenta’s products are all carbon neutral as the company offsets almost 720,000kg of carbon dioxide through its partnership with Climate Partner. The partnership with Climate Partner has supported cloud forest protection and local community support in Chiapas, Mexico.
In addition, Mijenta has also worked to provide clean wind energy for local communities in northeast Brazil. Other sustainable efforts from the brand include using locally sourced agave waste from Guadalajara for Mijenta labels and notecards.
London-based gin brand Sipsmith began its B Corp journey in 2019. The company, owned by Beam Suntory, put together a cross-functional core working group, known as ‘kaizen’, meaning ‘continuous improvement’.
Led by co-founder Sam Galsworthy, the kaizen team members each looked after an area of the B Corp assessment to improve the company’s performance. In May 2021, Sipsmith passed the 80-point threshold to be B Corp-certified with a score of 83.2 points.
However, the brand assured its commitment to being more sustainable, both environmentally and socially, would not stop there, and it has been working towards its ‘Crafting a better future’ strategy to continue building its sustainable performance.
Bourbon brand Maker’s Mark, owned by Beam Suntory, secured its B Corp status in January 2022 – thought to be the largest distillery in the world to have achieved the title at the time.
Maker’s Mark works by its company mission, ‘Make your mark. Leave no trace.’ It has worked to implement environment-focused programmes, such as the zero-landfill initiative at its distillery at Star Hill Farm in Kentucky, US, to preserve natural resources for whisky production.
Rob Samuels, managing director for Maker’s Mark Distillery, said at the time: “Since 1953, my grandparents instilled a sense of responsibility here at Maker’s Mark that started with the way we make our Bourbon, and extended to the way we impact the lives of our teams, our customers, our communities and our shared environment.”
In another B Corp ‘first’, Beesou is thought to be the first B Corp-certified apéritif brand. The brand made its UK debut last year. It is made from ethically sourced British honey and natural botanicals, which create the ‘all-natural bitter honey apéritif’.
The brand donates 10% of all profits to the charity Bees for Development.
Bottled at 11% ABV, the apéritif offers notes of cinchona bark, bitter chinotto, pink grapefruit and raw honey.