GLENKINCHIE Distillery, the lowland home of Johnnie Walker, has taken the first major step on the road to environmentally sustainable visitor experiences by achieving Scotland’s most prestigious Green Tourism Gold award.

The distillery near Edinburgh is the first in Diageo’s network of distillery visitor attractions across Scotland – which are currently part of a £185m investment programme – to receive the Gold accreditation and marks the first milestone in the company’s ambitious journey to build a sustainable future for Scotch whisky tourism.

Green Tourism’s certification programme provides a framework to achieve a sustainable tourism business and recognises the commitment of businesses which are actively working to become more sustainable in a bronze, silver and gold tiered system.

The award recognises the distillery’s green operating credentials, from zero-waste to landfill, to the sustainability of its distillation process.

The distillery has also been working on a nature sustainability strategy to encourage pollination and protect wildlife in the local area, including the installation of beehives, bat houses, bug boxes, and plantings to attract, feed, and shelter insects, birds, and other native creatures.

Ramsay Borthwick, senior site manager of Glenkinchie Distillery, was thrilled their work had been recognised with the award.

He said: “We call Glenkinchie ‘The Garden Distillery’ because we’re heavily influenced by the incredible land and greenery surrounding us. Being in the midst of East Lothian’s abundant lands, full of wild flowers and fragrant grass, has not only made us appreciative of our local environments but also passionate about preserving the natural wonders that inspire our whisky. That’s why our sustainability initiative is so important to us.

“We hope the methods we have put in place will make a real difference to our environmental impact and we look forward to improving this year on year.”

Andrea Nicholas, chief executive at Green Tourism, said: “We are very impressed with the commitment of Diageo to ensure all their distilleries achieve the highest standard of sustainability. This is especially evident in the refurbishment of Glenkinchie which has included significant investment in green building techniques and features.”