No waste, no problem: Our top zero-waste drinks brands

Kate Malczewski

Kate Malczewski

07 September 2020

To mark this year's Zero Waste Week (7-11 September) we've rounded up some of our favourite zero-waste drinks brands

Though the on-trade should be working towards environmental sustainability year-round, there’s never been a better time to bring that mission front of mind: this week, 7-11 September, marks Zero Waste Week, the nationwide campaign to raise awareness of the environmental impact of waste.

One straightforward way your venue can help the zero-waste movement is by supporting brands and stocking drinks that embrace zero-waste principles. To make things a little easier, we’ve rounded up the drinks brands doing the most to reuse, recycle and eliminate waste entirely, all while making great booze.

Black Cow Vodka

This vodka is a bartender favourite for two reasons: one, because it’s delicious; and two, because it’s a true testament to what can be created from supposed ‘waste’.

Jason Barber, co-founder of Black Cow, comes from a third-generation cheesemaking family in West Dorset. Eager to make use of the whey that’s typically disposed of in the cheesemaking process, he decided to ferment and distil it, and in 2012, Black Cow Vodka was born. Then, last year, the Black Cow team took its no-waste ethos a step further by introducing an English Strawberries expression, marrying its whey vodka with leftover or misshapen strawberries that would otherwise be thrown away.

The result? A flavoured vodka that actually tastes good. 

Discarded Spirits

You don’t have to look too far to see what Discarded is all about – the hint’s in the name. The William Grant & Sons brand takes materials that would otherwise go to waste and uses them to form the base of its spirits.

Launched in 2018, Discarded Cascara Vermouth focuses on – you guessed it – cascara, the berry of the coffee plant, which is left behind and often thrown away during coffee production. To make the vermouth, the berries are steeped in alcohol to create an extract. This extract is then blended with fortified wine and other botanicals, resulting in a liquid that is practically begging for a supporting role in your next Manhattan.

Next, Discarded applied its ethos to rum, taking rum that has been used to finish whisky casks and infusing it with banana peels for a sweet, fruity spirit that’s pure banoffee pie in a glass.

Toast Ale

As a certified B Corp, Toast Ale has committed itself to the sustainability of its community and the environment, and its efforts to reduce waste play an important role in this. The company partners with a brewery – currently Hepworth in Sussex – and rather than using all purpose-grown barley, replaces one-third of the grain bill with surplus bread from the heels of loaves that are usually thrown away. What’s more, 100% of Toast’s profits go to charities fighting food waste.

It’s also worth noting that Toast chooses not to export its beers due to the environmental impact of international shipping. Instead, it works with breweries in different countries to brew collaborations in keeping with its ethos.   

Foxhole Spirits

This West Sussex-based company has also dedicated itself to producing spirits from by-products or surplus materials. Foxhole Gin, its first expression, is made by collecting the leftover pressed grape skins, pulp and pips – called marc – from various English wineries, then pressing them again to collect the remaining juice. This is fermented into wine, then distilled with botanicals to craft the gin.

The business’ second product, Hyke Gin, utilises a similar concept. For this spirit, the company partnered with fruit supplier Richard Hochfeld to source surplus table grapes from British supermarkets – the equivalent of millions of punnets which would otherwise be wasted. The fruit is made into a wine, then distilled and flavoured with botanicals.

Earlier this year, Foxhole rounded out its portfolio with Mad City Botanical Rum, a blend of rums from Jamaica, Guyana, the Dominican Republic and Barbados. In keeping with its waste-conscious ethos, all of these rums are made from molasses – which is, of course, the by-product of sugar production. The blend is then infused with botanicals including coffee, coconut, papaya and vanilla. 

What’s your favourite zero-waste drinks brand? Let us know by tweeting at us @ImbibeUK.

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