Sustainability and responsibility (S&R): an ingrained blend
Our sustainability and responsibility (S&R) strategy takes a 360-degree approach: every area of the business – and every brand – is involved and contributes.
We believe this approach allows us to make a wider impact – not just on the environment, but on our people, communities and consumers.
Becoming carbon-neutral is a priority, which we’re working towards through initiatives that is cutting our energy, making our packaging more sustainable, and minimising the waste of finite resources.
But alongside this we’re also closing our gender pay gap, strengthening our relationship with our charity partner and neighbours through volunteering, embedding responsible procurement and encouraging everyone who enjoys a Chivas Brothers whisky to do so responsibly.
hectares of woodland in Speyside
miles from Aberlour Distillery
charities have benefited from our support in the last year
We’re focussed on two core commitments: reducing our impact on the planet and having a positive effect on the lives of the people we touch.
To make sure we meet these, our S&R work is split into four pillars: Nurturing Terroir and Circular Making (which support our environmental goals) and Valuing People and Responsible Hosting (which support our societal aims).
Concentrating our efforts into the following four areas means every part of our business is pulling towards our ambition – to lead the whisky industry in making tangible change that benefits people and planet.
A unique blend of crops, soil, water, weather, people and more goes into making our whisky. The French call this terroir and we strive to look after that special blend. This includes supporting local farmers – using grains that are grown as close to our sites as possible – and working with them to cut their own carbon footprint.
Nurturing Terroir also means looking beyond the here and now. Making whisky is a patient business – many of our brands don’t hit the shelves before they’re 12 years old – so we’re taking steps to protect the land for years to come.
So we’re also championing nature with schemes in place to boost biodiversity at our sites – and beyond. For example, at The Glenlivet we’ve introduced a range of sustainable solutions to help address water scarcity, including building small dams. These will capture water that can be used in the distillery during drier seasons. We’ve worked with researchers from the University of Aberdeen and James Hutton Institute to introduce these measures, which will protect our production. We also hope these works will help maintain groundwater levels, support flood management and boost water quality.
S&R spotlight: We have local growing agreements in place at our Aberlour and Glenlivet distilleries, which means all the barley used at these sites is sourced from farms within a 15 mile (Aberlour) and 50 mile radius (The Glenlivet). Through these agreements we’re supporting trusted producers and keeping carbon emissions from transportation to a minimum.
We focus on responsible production: making sure nothing we use goes to waste – and making the most of the materials we already have. We are cutting back our packaging – reducing the amount of glass and cardboard we use – removing single-use and virgin plastic from our marketing materials (so they’re all made from recycled sources) and making our sites more sustainable by buying renewable energy and installing measures such as electric heaters.
We’re always striving to go further by looking for new innovations that will help us reduce, reuse and recycle more. For example, we’ve pioneered new technology – Mechanical Vapour Recompression – to boil our stills, which has significantly reduced our energy use. In using this ground-breaking technology, we are leading the way for other distillers, and as we implement more systems like this, we’ll share our knowledge so we can help the wider industry go greener.
S&R spotlight: At our Braeval distillery, we’ve introduced new ‘circular’ bio-gas trucks. They transport the by-products from the distillation process – such as our spent grain – to an anaerobic digestion plant, where they’re turned into bio-fuel. This is used to power transport – including our trucks – saving 690 tonnes of carbon emissions annually, and making the whole process circular!
We care deeply about our people and that includes not only our teammates, but our suppliers and our neighbours too. This pillar is focussed on empowering our people, promoting a diverse and inclusive workplace – within Chivas Brothers and across our supply chain – supporting our communities and, ultimately, taking care of each other.
Work within this space includes our efforts to close our gender pay gap, break down stereotypes that surround Scotch – both in terms of who’s drinking it and who works in the industry – embed responsible procurement across the business, and provide an open, comfortable working environment where everyone can be their true selves.
Alongside this is our community work in which we give back to the neighbourhoods that we rely on. This includes the Chivas Spirit of Support programme, which gives everyone at Chivas Brothers a year to volunteer in their local area, and Responsib’All Day, when we all head out to lend a hand in the community. We also have a long-standing charity of choice scheme: teammates select a group, body or organisation that we support through a two-year partnership.
To make sure we’re measuring up to our valuing people pledges: we use EcoVadis, an independent platform to rate our social, ethical and environmental sustainability.
S&R spotlight: Ballantine’s is shining a light on the issues of diversity and inclusion (D&I) within music, and working to make lasting change in the industry through its pioneering True Music initiative. This includes the True Music Fund, which is investing £500,000 to help grassroots musicians support D&I projects in their area, and hosting diverse, inclusive performances – both in person and virtual.
We believe there is no conviviality in excess and so we’re dedicated to helping people enjoy our whiskies safely.
This work starts at home as our people are our best ambassadors. We provide training and make sure everyone understands the effects of alcohol and what it takes to be a responsible host. We also work with groups and schemes that promote safe and responsible drinking, such as Drinkaware – a UK-wide alcohol education charity – and the Best Bar None Awards, which rewards pubs and clubs that promote safe nights out.
We also help whisky lovers enjoy our drinks safely and responsibly. This includes putting responsible drinking messaging on all our products and being careful about how our brands interact with consumers. For example, Ballantine’s events include free water, food, recycling bins and safe and inclusive dancefloors.
S&R spotlight: We’ve introduced digital QR code labels across all our brands, giving consumers more information about what they’re drinking, so they can enjoy our whiskies responsibly. Once scanned, the labels take consumers to a webpage where they can find out more about the product they’re drinking – including nutritional details and ingredients – as well information about alcohol and health, such as the number of units per measure. All information appears in the consumer’s language and is relevant to their country.
We have set ourselves ambitious targets across all four of our sustainability and responsibility pillars.
Our pledges include:
Our teams are united in reaching these targets with every department – from production to manufacturing and marketing to sales – contributing towards them. We have mapped out a robust plan to make sure we meet these targets and are always looking at new ways of working that will help us reach them sooner.
These goals are part of our longer term aim to cut our overall carbon footprint by 50% by 2030 and for the whole business to be net zero by 2050.