Scotch Whisky producers including Diageo, Chivas Brothers, John Dewar & Sons, Whyte & Mackay and Glen Turner are trialing a system to deliver Scotch Whisky by train from Speyside to central Scotland in a bid to cut emissions and trucks on roadways.
The area covered by the trial is home to 77 distilleries, which produce 85 percent of all of Scotch malt whisky, according to Richard Lochhead, the Scottish government’s cabinet secretary for rural affairs and the environment.
Currently all bulk Scotch Whisky and spirit is moved by road from Speyside to warehouses and bottling halls across central Scotland. The “Lifting the Spirit” project is designed to reduce trucks on busy roads, test an alternative transport option for the expanding Scotch Whisky industry and assess the benefit to the environment, the Scotch Whisky Association says.
The first trains transporting Scotch Whisky will leave the Elgin goods yard in Speyside this week to make the journey of more than 200 miles through Aberdeen to Grangemouth in central Scotland.
The association says it’s the first time there has been any substantial volume of goods, including Scotch Whisky, transported by train from Elgin since the mid-1980s. Work completed by the Network Rail, with some Scottish Government funding, to improve the train route and facilities around Elgin has made the project possible.
Lifting the Spirit is being driven and part-funded by the Highlands and Islands Transport Partnership (HITRANS), Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and Moray Council, the association says. The European Union’s North Sea Region Programme is also funding the trial, as part of the Food Port project, which involves a number of private and public sector organizations.
Trains will run twice a week from Elgin to Grangemouth and may carry other food and drink products along with Scotch Whisky, the association says. Empty Bourbon casks from the US for the Scotch Whisky industry may be carried on the return journey to Speyside, along with other goods, such as malt and barley.
The trial will run until around mid-November. An independent academic partner will analyze the results of the trial and investigate its long-term feasibility.
In other Scotch Whisky sustainability efforts, startup Celtic Renewables says it can turn waste from the country’s £4 billion ($6 billion) whisky-making industry into millions of gallons of renewable fuel, creating a £60 million ($90 million) biofuels industry, National Geographic reported in June.