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Glenmorangie Distillery introduce Oysters into the Dornoch Firth

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With the news that the whisky giant Glenmorangie had recently assisted a groundbreaking environmental project which has seen Native European oysters reintroduced to their once native waters of the Highlands after a century’s absence, it would seem that the Scottish spirits industry is beginning to take its green credentials quite seriously.

In fact, this is just the latest in a long line of initiatives by spirits companies around the country that are putting the sector at the forefront of environmentalism in the UK’s manufacturing scene.

“This restoration of oyster reefs in the Dornoch Firth is an internationally
recognised special area of conservation,” explained Hamish Torrie, director of corporate social responsibility at
The Glenmorangie Company. “It will help us realise our long-term vision of a distillery in complete harmony with its natural surroundings.

“Glenmorangie’s distillery has stood on the banks of the Dornoch Firth for over 170 years – and we want to ensure that the firth’s pristine habitat will be preserved and enhanced over the next 170 years.”

Native oysters flourished in the waters of the Dornoch Firth up to 10,000 years ago, before being decimated in the 19th century due to overfishing.

Last year, 300 oysters from the UK’s only sizeable wild oyster population in Loch Ryan were placed on two sites in the firth as part of the Dornoch Environmental Enhancement Project (see panel).

They were watched over by researchers from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, partners in the project, to see if life in that stretch of water was viable for the molluscs. In October this year, they were joined by 20,000 more, with an aim of building an oyster population of four million within the same amount of years.

Glenmorangie also recently officially opened its £6 million anaerobic digestion plant, which is expected to purify up to 95 per cent of the waste water that its distillery at Tain releases into local waters, with the remaining 5 per cent of the organic waste naturally cleaned by the oysters.

Macallan placed the environment at the heart of its design for its pioneering new state-of-the-art distillery, which opened to the public earlier this year.

Built to “reflect and complement the natural beauty” of the area surrounding The Macallan Estate, the stunning building had a strong focus on sustainability, with a key design feature an undulating roof planted with a Scottish wildflower meadow.

Ian Curle, chief executive of Edrington, explained that sustainability remained a constant throughout all of the design and planning phases and that he believes that over 95 per cent of the energy they’ll be using will be from renewable sources.

He said: “As we are the first industry to have a sectoral environmental strategy that we’ve been working on collectively for about five or six years now, it became very important for us because what you see here at The Macallan Distillery is an investment for the future so it has to be future proofed, and the sustainability of the site is vital to that.


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Dornoch Firth
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