Increasingly, the messaging with both new and established makers of spirits includes information about their commitment to sustainability. This encompasses everything from their manufacturing practices to their ecological citizenship. Sustainability adds the pillars of responsible manufacturing and environmental caretaking to their work.

Here are a few new releases that make sustainability part of their missions and add good deeds to good taste.

The Macallan

The Macallan has been distilling whiskies since 1824. The newest of their limited release single malts, The Macallan The Harmony Collection Inspired by Intense Arabica, is a single malt scotch that is inspired by the aromas and flavours of arabica coffee without including coffee ingredients. The vision was to find inspiration in the complexity of Guji and Harrar coffee beans and to bring out their flavours in the distillation and aging process.

Steven Bremner, Whisky Maker at The Macallan, describes how he achieved bringing those flavours to the fore: “I sought out intense notes in The Macallan’s traditional sherry seasoned European oak casks that would offer the rich and satisfying elements of coffee, with the influence of sherry seasoned American oak casks adding sweeter and softer vanilla notes for a balanced and rounded experience.”

The result? “On the nose there are characteristics like tiramisu, cappucino, gingerbread, raisins, almonds, sweet oak and vanilla. On the palate, it will turn into espresso, dark chocolate and raisin, with the tiramisu note coming back again, some blackberry, vanilla, Brazil nut and into sweet oak, while the finish imparts a long, dark roast coffee style, but is balanced and sweet.”

The taste experience is really rather magical, and the wonder of distillation and aging is that all of these facets of coffee can be present without the coffee itself.

macallan harmony package
photo credit: Brilynn Ferguson

Coffee ingredients do, however, appear in the packaging in an innovative and sustainable way. The paper is made from coffee bean husks that would otherwise have been discarded. Michele Posocco, paper expert with historical paper mill Favini, creates sustainable paper with by-products from different industrial chains. These products replace virgin tree fibres, and they upcycle what would otherwise be waste products. He said, “When The Macallan proposed using coffee in the paper for The Harmony Collection packaging, it was really exciting. They were asking us to produce a paper out of the by-product of coffee, which is the skin lost during the roasting process.” The red ink on the packaging is a reference to the red of the coffee bean, and the packaging highlights all of the flavours and aromas. You can read more about the company’s commitment to sustainability here.

The Macallan The Harmony Collection Inspired by Intense Arabica will be available across Canada at the suggested retail price of $249.95/750 ml. It is a limited release, and customers are limited to two bottles each.

Gray Whale Gin

The mission of Gray Whale Gin is “gin for good”: good times shared with friends and family in a world where small choices made each day can leave the planet a better place than we found it.

Founders Jan and Marsh were on a camping trip at Big Sur and saw a gray whale and her calf on their own trip up north. Every year, the California gray whale makes a 12,000-mile migration from the Baja Peninsula to the Arctic. Inspired by this journey, they wanted both to create in their gin the dynamism of the journey and to make sure that each bottle would work towards making sure that the gray whale population can continue making its epic migration along the west coast. A percentage of every bottle sold is donated to Oceana, and the Golden State Distillery is a member of One Percent for the Planet, where at least one percent of annual sales are donated to environmental causes. Gray Whale Gin also supports local farmers, and all of the botanicals are sourced organically and locally.

gray whale banner

The botanicals in the gin are foraged along the coastal path of the migrating whale, and the evolution on the palate is designed to evoke their journey: California juniper from Big Sur, Temecula limes and Sonoma fir give the gin its citrus and juniper top notes. Sea kelp from the Mendocino coast gives the gin a rich umami character and invokes the ocean. Mint from Santa Cruz lends a fresh and bright character, and almonds from the Central Valley give the gin a gentle and creamy finish. It is a very smooth gin, and its azure bottle (also sustainably made) make it a beautiful addition to your bar.

gray whale

Gray Whale Gin just launched in Ontario and is available at the LCBO for $52.95.

See this piece for tips on how to create more sustainable cocktails.