top of page

B Corp Certified Whisky Distilleries

Updated: Mar 2


B Corp certified whisky distilleries

Image by The Whisky Ardvark


You might have seen businesses proudly displaying a B Corp certificate despite operating in different industries. As of February 2024, nine whisky distilleries worldwide had earned the B Corp status, but what does it mean? Join The Whisky Ardvark on a quest to find out.



 

First of All - What is B Corp?


B Lab is a non-profit network that aims to transform the global economy to benefit all people, communities, and the planet. Simply put, B Lab is an authority that evaluates businesses' social and environmental performance and impact and provides certifications to those who meet the criteria. This includes a commitment towards greener thinking and action and transparency about their business. When a company is granted B Corp status, it represents the values put out by B Lab and is part of the movement as a certified B Corporation (B Corp).

Image by Bang Creations


The company must apply to be eligible for the certificate. It is not an award that is given out. Once certified, every company must provide an updated impact assessment every three years to maintain its certified status. All companies are given a B impact score based on their reviews, which can be found in detail on the B Corporation website.


B Lab was founded in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 2006 and has regional offices in Amsterdam, London, Melbourne, New York, São Paulo, Nairobi, and Santiago. To learn more about the network that expands to all industry sectors also under Sistema B, please visit www.bcorporation.net.



 

B Corp Certified Whisky Distilleries & The Impact


According to the official website, nine whisky distilleries have been granted a B Corp status at the time of writing - three in Scotland, one in Australia, one in England and four in the US. The distilleries are Bruichladdich (Scotland), Cape Byron (Australia), Ellers Farm (England), Fair Game (USA), Headframe (USA), Maker's Mark (USA), Nc'Nean (Scotland), North Uist (Scotland) and Westland (USA).


B Corp certified distilleries

Image by The Whisky Ardvark


In June 2016, the first whisky-producing distillery to obtain the B Corp certificate was established by Fair Game Beverage Co. in North Carolina. In May 2020, Bruichladdich became the first Scottish whisky and European gin distillery to receive its B Corp status.


In the next section, we will individually delve into each of the nine whisky-producing distilleries. Please note that the impact scores shown below were gathered in February 2024. The impact score evaluates a company's commitment to transparency, ethics, and plans, including but not limited to worker satisfaction, community engagement, environmental impact, and customer involvement.



 

Bruichladdich Distillery - Islay, Scotland

Certified May 2020


The Bruichladdich distillery is located on the Scottish Hebridean island of Islay, and it is home to three styles of single malt whisky - unpeated Bruichladdich, peated Port Charlotte, and heavily peated Octomore - as well as The Botanist gin. In May 2020, Bruichladdich became the first Scottish and European gin distillery to be granted B Corp status.


Bruichladdich is committed to its B Corp status by using bottles made from an average of 60% recycled glass, supporting and employing local farmers and agriculture, and even developing new bottle jackets made entirely of 100% recycled paper. The distillery has devoted the same level of effort and commitment to transparency for its traceable-to-origin whiskies as it has for its detailed environmental plan, which can be accessed on its official website.


Bruichladdich B Corp Certified whisky distillery

Images by B Corporation / Bruichladdich Distillery / Whisky Geeks


 

Cape Byron Distillery - New South Wales, Australia

Certified February 2022


The Cape Byron distillery in Australia was founded in 2016 and is home to the Cape Byron single malt and Brookie's gin. In February 2022, the distillery was granted B Corp status, highlighting its commitment to sustainability. The company strongly emphasises sustainability and uses packaging made of 70% recycled materials on average. Additionally, their bottles are recyclable. The distillery has planted over 44,000 rainforest trees to further its efforts. You can visit their official website for more information on their sustainability practices.


Cape Byron B Corp Certified Australian whisky distillery

Images by B Corporation / Cape Byron Distillery



 

Ellers Farm Distillery - York, England

Certified September 2023


Ellers Farm Distillery was established in 2022 and is located east of York, in North Yorkshire. The distillery was built sustainably and aims to be carbon-neutral from day one. In September 2023, it received its B Corp certification, making it the first and only English whisky-producing distillery to achieve this recognition.


In addition to producing gin, Ellers Farm Distillery has partnered with Theakston Brewery to create its distiller's beer for whisky. Most of its whiskies are matured in ex-Heaven Hill American oak barrels. While the single malt whisky is scheduled for release in 2025, the distillery has launched a limited six-bottle collection to mark its journey to the three-year milestone. Please visit their website to learn more about how Ellers Farm Distillery is committed to the B Corp values.


Ellers Farm B Corp Certified English whisky distillery

Images by B Corporation / Ellers Farm Distillery / The Spirits Business

 

Fair Game Beverage Co - North Carolina, USA

Certified June 2016


Fair Game is a small craft distillery in Pittsboro, North Carolina, established in 2016. The distillery produces wine and various spirits, such as gin, rum, whiskey, and brandy. They still use a single alembic copper pot to make their spirits and age them in ex-bourbon barrels. Their ingredients are sourced from small family farms in the region and utilise traditional techniques in their production process.


Although Fair Game only produces small batches of malt whiskey each year, the fact that they make it is noteworthy and is why they are included on this list.


Fair Game B Corp Certified whiskey distillery

Images by B Corporation / Fair Game Beverage Co



 

Headframe Distillers - Montana, USA

Certified December 2016


Headframe is a micro-distillery in Butte, Montana, founded by John and Courtney McKee in 2010. They opened their tasting room doors in 2012 and have been producing bourbon, rye, single malt and American malt whiskies, vodka, and gin. In December 2016, the company received its B Corp certification.


Furthermore, Headframe Distillers designs and manufactures stills for small continuous stills sold to other micro-distilleries worldwide. For more information about Headframe Distillers, please visit their website.


Headframe spirits B Corp Certified whiskey distillery

Images by B Corporation / Headframe Distillers

 

Maker's Mark - Kentucky, USA

Certified December 2021


Maker's Mark distillery in Loretto, Kentucky, became a certified B Corp in December 2021. This makes it the largest whisky distillery to receive the certification and the only B Corp Kentucky distillery.


Maker's Mark, known for its wheated bourbon, has made several environmental commitments to maintain its B Corp status. This includes using solar panels to power its warehouses, researching oak, farming bees, having a water sanctuary, and planting crops used in its whiskey production. To learn more about the distillery's environmental efforts, please visit their website.


Makers Mark B Corp Certified whisky distillery

Images by B Corporation / Maker's Mark



 

Nc'Nean Distillery - Highlands, Scotland

Certified December 2021


Nc'Nean is a distillery that Annabel Thomas intentionally built to be sustainable, zero-waste, and eco-friendly in 2013. Although it took them several years to apply for the B Corp status, their impact score is the best out of the nine distilleries featured in this article. Of course, actions speak louder than words. The distillery produces two types of organic spirits, single malt whiskey and a botanical spirit, made with organic Scottish barley and bottled in 100% recycled glass. Nc'Nean is presented in gift tubes and made using 90% recycled materials. You can visit their official website to learn more about how the distillery keeps its sustainable whisky-making promise.


Nc'Nean B Corp Certified whisky distillery

Images by B Corporation / Nc'Nean Distillery / Difford's Guide


 

North Uist Distillery - Benbecula, Scotland

September 2023


North Uist distillery, located on the Scottish isle of Benbecula, is home to Downpour gin and will soon release its Nunton single malt whisky. The distillery was founded by Kate MacDonald and Jonny Ingledew in 2019. Nunton whisky is made using only locally farmed Bere barley, supporting local farmers and agriculture. It's worth noting that the distillery does not currently promote its B Corp status, which was granted in September 2023.


North Uist B Corp Certified whisky distillery

Images by B Corporation / North Uist Distillery Co

 

Westland Distillery - Washington, USA

February 2024


The latest addition to the list is Westland Distillery in Seattle, Washington. The distillery was founded in 2010 to set the bar for American single malt whisky. In February 2024, they received B Corp certification. To learn more about how the distillery utilises its new status, visit its official website.


Westland B Corp Certified whiskey distillery

Images by B Corporation / Westland Distillery / Breakthru Beyond



 

Why Aren't More Whisky Distilleries B Corp Certified?


Although having a B Corp certificate can be beneficial, only nine whisky distilleries worldwide have obtained it. If having the status is desirable, why are there not more of them?


It is difficult for many old distilleries to meet the criteria that B Lab promotes as it would require significant investment. Building a new carbon-zero distillery with sustainability as a base plan might be much easier than converting 100-year-old distilleries to the newly implicated environmentally friendly standards.


Applying for a B Corp certificate can also be time-consuming and costly, with a fee of £250 (plus tax) per submission. If certified, companies pay an annual fee from £1,000 to £50,000 depending on their annual turnover. The annual fees will be adjusted accordingly for companies making over a million annually.


Nc'Nean whisky distillery Scotland

Image by Drimnin Estate - Nc'Nean Distillery


Although many countries do not have laws requiring businesses to practice a specific eco-friendly approach, many encourage companies to pursue them. In the UK, the government supports small businesses to go green, with £5 billion made available annually through grants and loans.


B Lab's ultimate goal is to change how companies think and operate. They aim to raise awareness of business practices' negative environmental and social impacts and promote sustainable alternatives. Appealing to consumers while making the business environmentally friendly might be the biggest reason why many companies are applying for the B Corp status.


According to the organisation, having a B Corp status helps to build trust between the business and its customers, attracts employees with its ethics policy and requirement of providing a living wage, and is attractive to potential investors. However, the annual costs of keeping the certificate and living up to the values may affect the product's price - at least in the short run.


 

Thank you for reading The Whisky Ardvark. Be sure to check out some of our other informative articles listed below.




45 views0 comments

Comentarios


bottom of page