If you’re anything like me then, as a consumer, going green can involve a trade-off or two. For example, travelling locally instead of flying means I’m cold 52 weeks of the year instead of 50, and going for the (often lighter) vegan option usually has me going for a second portion of chips. Although it feels great to shop more responsibly, sometimes it isn’t 100% convenient, which I’m sad to say can sometimes be a hindrance to my choices…
Sustainable Spirits: The Official 31D Guide
HOWEVER, when it comes to drinking, I don’t get the same guilty tug in my heart. Like clothes, food, beauty and more, the world of spirits is adapting to the sustainability movement and there are already some brilliant bottles out there that’ll make you glad you branched out from your usual.
I’ve written a list of my favourite sustainable spirits, a list that is growing monthly! Those trade-offs I mentioned? Minimal. They’re all in the average price range for their category, not to mention very versatile and completely delicious - without being super niche.
To me, the key to sustaining being sustainable is all about making small, convenient changes that can make a big difference. So go ahead and swap your typical London Dry for a gin made using responsibly-foraged birch sap, or ditch your fave flavoured vodka for one that uses unwanted strawberries.
With sustainable spirits, the glass really is always greener. Have a look at some of the bottles that would have even Attenborough reaching for a tumbler.
Freya Birch Gin
Why it’s sustainable: this revolutionary gin uses the sap of birch trees from Finland & Latvia at its base, instead of the usual grain or wheat. Up to four litres of sap can be tapped from the tree - which doesn’t harm it in the slightest. Plus the trees grow in abundance all over the world, meaning a shortage of sap isn’t on the cards.
Why it’s sustainable: Hyke use the leftover table grapes that are unfit for sale in UK supermarkets as the base for their innovative gin. The resulting grape juice is fermented into wine, which is then turned into a gin. Think smart, sip neat. Similarly, sister spirit Foxhole Gin uses leftover grapes from the production of English Sparkling Wine.
Why it’s sustainable: ‘A drink brand for the modern day’. In partnership with London’s Trees for Cities, Food and Forest and High Atlas Foundation, Sapling plant a tree for every bottle produced. Sustainability at its finest.
Why it’s sustainable: the original Black Cow Vodka is innovative, using leftover MILK at its base from cheese production. The result is a delectably smooth, sipping vodka. Holy cow! If flavoured vodkas are more your thing, you should check out their seasonal English Strawberries edition. Kind of like that wonky veg initiative, Black Cow use misshapen strawberries that people wouldn’t want to buy from supermarkets (pretty sad really) to flavour their gin.
Why it’s sustainable: the big players can be sustainable too! During production, all agave by-product is retained and composted and, employing reverse osmosis, Patron reuse 70% of the water produced during distillation. Their Silver edition is a personal favourite - the bottle is stunning and the liquid inside is fabulous in a Margarita.
Why it’s sustainable: based in the Scottish Highlands, the young and independent Ncn’ean distillery is powered by renewable energy, whether it’s from renewable energy providers or from its wood chip-powered biomass boiler. This is a beautiful botanical spirit, using local ingredients such as sorrel and heather for a striking, herbal flavour.
Why it’s sustainable: this vermouth uses cascara cherries at its base, which are usually - as the name suggests - discarded during coffee production. A shocking 97% of cascara pulp is sent to landfill (after the coffee bean is extracted), but the Discarded team are on a waste-fighting mission to give these little cherries the happy ending they deserve. Super delicious in a Negroni or topped with soda water.
So there you have it, the hottest (or should I say coolest?) of the lot. Tried one of these already? Let us know what you think in the comments!