Peas to reduce the environmental footprint in spirits
Researchers in the UK have found a way to make our gin & tonic greener.
Master distiller Kirsty Black explains that each spirit base can be made from any ingredient.
“The basic spirit can be made from any agricultural raw material, but since it is distilled to a very high alcoholic strength and purity, the raw material should not have much influence on the final taste of the gin once it has been flavoured with botanicals,” explains Black of the Arbikie Distillery.
Gin, usually made from ground wheat grain, can be made from peas, for example. Black decided to join a group of botanists and environmentalists to determine the use of peas as a substitute for wheat. In fact, legumes are more sustainable because of their ability to fix nitrogen from the atmosphere. They reduce the need for synthetic nitrogen fertilizers, which are responsible for much of the agricultural pollution. For example, wheat needs about 15 kilograms of nitrogen fertilizer while the pea needs zero.
David Styles who studies product lifecycles and carbon footprint at Bangor University in Wales collaborated with Black to research pea-based gin. Styles studied the legume cycle and found that producing one litre of pea gin reduces global warming by 12 per cent, 15 per cent less resource depletion and 68 per cent less nitrogen air pollution, although it required more than twice as much land to grow peas due to lower yields.
The creation of pea-based gin would also help reduce the import of soybeans from South America to the UK. Thanks to the residues of the pea, which contains large amounts of protein, they could be converted into animal feed.
A long-term project
Pea-based gin is not yet a reality. But Black says Arbikie is considering releasing it in the near future. For now, they are examining how the relative costs of cultivation and production are compared to determine whether pea-based gin would be a viable commercial product.
About Arbikie Distillery
We have great respect for the land, and the impact we have on the environment. Being a field to bottle operation means negligible food miles. We grow our own crops. We use our own water. We grow our own juniper. We are expanding our use of solar energy. Our primary waste products where possible are recycled as cattle feed.
Don’t drink and drive. Enjoy responsibly.