The Best Sustainable Spirits In The UK To Try (2024)

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Let’s raise a glass to the best sustainable spirits on the market right now – from whisky to vodka, tequila and gin. Featuring Fairtrade and organic spirits to the brands that give back, here’s my pick of the top spirits to know.

I’ve previously dug deep into the worlds of sustainable wines and ethical beer. However, these aren’t the only beverages that have been given an eco-friendly makeover. Heaps of your favourite spirits – including gin, whisky, vodka and run – have all been given a sustainable upgrade too.

This is all thanks to a new breed of eco-conscious drink brands who are finding new ways to make their spirits greener.

Some brands are sourcing organic and fairtrade ingredients, or even sourcing their ingredients from items that would otherwise go to waste. Water conservation and energy efficiency are also key. Whilst in terms of packaging heaps of spirits brands are making big steps to cut their plastic usage and make their packaging more eco-friendly.

Wondering where to start finding these green brands? I’ve put together this handy guide to the best sustainable spirits brands available right now for you to enjoy responsibly. There’s something to suit every taste and budget.

The Best Sustainable Spirits To Know

Glasses of gin with a blue text box that reads the best sustainable and eco-friendly spirits to try.

From organic whisky to gin that gives back, and plastic-free vodka to Fairtrade rum, here are the ethical spirits brands to know. Use the quick links to jump to a specific section of this post, or keep scrolling for the full guide:

Whisky

If you’re looking for sustainable whisky to add to your spirit collection, then I’ve found some great brands that focus on organic farming methods:

Nc’nean Organic Whisky

Bottle of Nc'Nean Organic Whisky sitting on a whisky barrel.

Nc’nean Organic Whisky (£51.95 for 70 cl from Master Of Malt) is a great choice when it comes to sustainable whisky.

This smooth single malt is produced from organic Scottish-grown barley, which is fermented and distilled at the carbon-neutral Nc’nean Distillery on the West Coast of Scotland.

The distillery is powered by renewable energy, but that’s not the only environmental measure that Nc’nean prioritise. Water conservation is also key – after all, the Scottish Gaelic translation of whisky is “water of life”. With water recycling and conservation measures in place, this ensures that Nc’nean’s footprint on the environment is as small as possible.

To add to these impressive sustainability credentials, the beautiful bottle is made entirely from recycled glass.

Taste-wise, you won’t be disappointed. Once distilled, the whisky is poured into a combination of red wine American whiskey barrels, and sherry casks. This gives Nc’nean whisky a rich body, alongside a sweet fruity taste. I find it’s best enjoyed neat, with a little water or ice, so that you can savour the flavour. It’s not one to add a mixer to.


Oxford Rye Whisky

Person making a cocktail with Oxford Rye whisky

Oxford Rye Whisky (£45.50 for 70cl from Master Of Malt), produced by the Oxford Artisan Distillery, is another environmentally friendly spirit to put on your radar.

The Oxford Artisan Distillery works with local organic and regenerative farms on over 300 acres of English countryside, mostly within a 50-mile radius of its distillery in Oxford, to grow its ancient heritage grains.

These grains are grown sustainably, without the use of pesticides, chemical fertilisers and even manure. There is low to no crop rotation and the crop is undersown with clover. All of this contributes to an abundance of wildflowers, insects and birds across the farms, and helps to encourage biodiversity in the Oxfordshire countryside.

I’m Scottish, and I much prefer Scotch Whisky neat. I don’t think you can replicate that peaty taste outside of Scotland. However, if you don’t like peaty whiskies, then try this neat. It’s very smooth and palatable without that smoky taste. I personally really enjoy Oxford Rye mixed with ginger ale. It makes for a sophisticated grown-up drink that’s perfect for sipping on a cold evening.


Gin

Gin lovers rejoice, there are now heaps of sustainable brands bringing you ways to enjoy this popular spirit ethically. And don’t forget to upcycle your gin bottles when you’re done, to help save waste further.

Elephant Gin

Bottle of Elephant gin on a metal tray next to two glasses of G&T.

For gin that gives back to charity, I really rate Elephant Gin (£28.98 for 50 cl from Master of Malt).

This beautiful-tasting gin is distilled using 14 botanicals. This gives the gin a floral, fruity, and spicy flavour that can be enjoyed both straight and in a cocktail.

Packaging-wise, Elephant Gin has managed to produce a lighter-weight glass bottle that, alone, shaves 60 tonnes of its annual carbon footprint. It’s made from 65% recycled glass and is fully recyclable. The bottles are then sealed with natural compostable cork and hemp rope and are 100% plastic-free.

Elephant Gin also contributes 15% of all profits to two African elephant foundations which support the preservation of African wildlife, with a particular focus on elephants and habitat conservation. To date, Elephant Gin has contributed over €1,000,000 to its partner foundations through the sales of its gin as well as fundraising events.


Hyke Gin

Bottle of Hyke gin next to two tall glasses of gin with cucumber in them.

Hyke Gin (£29.78 for 70cl at Master Of Malt) is made by Foxhole Spirits from products that would otherwise go to waste.

In this gin’s case, it’s made from wonky table grapes – an industry term for grapes that are intended to be eaten while fresh, as opposed to grapes grown for making wine or juice, or for drying into raisins. Visually, supermarkets wouldn’t sell them, but they are perfect for use in gin.

Foxhole also uses the loose grapes that are left behind during the grape punnet packing process. Here, when grapes are cut, trimmed, and separated to fit into punnets, this can leave behind thousands of tonnes of loose grapes that can no longer be sold as “fresh”.

Working in collaboration with one of the UK’s biggest fruit importers, Foxhole is managing to use 1.4 million punnets of surplus grapes per year, which otherwise may have gone to waste.

The result is a beautifully smooth gin that makes a mean G&T!


Vodka

After some sustainable vodka to add to your spirit collection? Try one of these eco-conscious brands:

Mermaid Salt Vodka

Bottle of Mermaid Salt vodka next to two vodka cocktails.

Mermaid Salt Vodka (£38 for 70 cl at John Lewis) is distilled on the Isle of Wight by The Isle of Wight Distillery – a distillery committed to sustainability.

Its vodka is grain distilled, with added rock sea salt that lends extra smoothness. The salt is naturally harvested, using only the sun’s energy to draw the salt from the seawater. The vodka is then blended with Isle of Wight spring water.

I’ve never had salt vodka before, but it’s a new favourite – the salt lends the vodka a subtle savoury taste that works well neat or with tonic water.

When it comes to the packaging, nothing has been overlooked. All of the Isle of Wight Distillery’s beautiful bottles are made from recyclable glass. Plus each bottle features a natural wood and cork stopper which can be composted.

And whilst most tamper-proof bottle seals are made from plastic, Isle of Wight Distillery has even given these the sustainability treatment. Its seals are now fully compostable. Even the neck label is made from recycled paper.

The distillery also partners with a couple of charity organisations, to give back. This includes the Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, where it’s helping to restore seagrass meadows, and Surfers Against Sewage to help raise awareness of plastic pollution.

After years of hard work reducing plastic usage, improving energy efficiency at the distillery, and other eco improvements, in 2022 the distillery was officially recognised as a B Corp. This is a business that acts as a force of good – balancing profit with purpose and people.


Koskenkorva

Bottle of Koskenkorva Climate Action Vodka with a green label and wooden stopper.

If you just want a sustainable vodka that’s clean-tasting and classic, try Koskenkorva (£23.50 for 70cl from Master Of Malt).

This Finnish vodka is made with sustainability in mind, from regeneratively farmed barley. What’s so special about that? Well, regenerative agriculture directly helps to tackle climate change.

Unlike standard agricultural practices, regenerative farming takes carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere and locks it in the ground – helping turn fields into carbon sponges.

As well as helping to store carbon, regenerative farming techniques have other knock-on benefits. It can improve biodiversity, prevent water pollution, protect crops against drought, and help the soil retain more water – reducing flood risks.


Rum

If you’re a rum lover, then don’t worry. This spirit has also had a sustainable overhaul thanks to these pioneering ethical brands:

Discarded Spirits

Bottle of Discarded Banana Peel Rum, next to a cocktail glass with sustainable spirit and mixer in it.

Discarded Spirits (£27.89 for 70 cl from Master of Malt) is a great choice for anyone looking for a more eco-friendly take on rum.

Here finishing rum – the rum that was originally created to add flavour to empty whisky casks before maturation before being discarded – is used to make this environmentally friendly spirit.

As well as saving rum from being wasted, Discarded has also taken the banana peels from flavour houses – which otherwise would have been thrown away – to impart a fruity toffee flavour to the rum. The peel is dried out, fermented, and steeped in alcohol for two weeks, for an intense hit of banana.

The overall result is a delicious banana toffee-tasting rum that’s perfect neat, with some ice, or mixed with cola.


FAIR Rum

Bottle of Fair fairtrade rum from Belize

FAIR Rum (£33.95 for 70cl from House Of Malt) is a great choice if you are looking for Fairtrade rum.

As the world’s first Fairtrade-certified spirits brand, FAIR believes in treating all people fairly. It ensures that its farmers are paid a fair price for their crops, such as the organic sugar cane grown from Belize that goes into the making of this delicious rum.

FAIR offers a guaranteed minimum price (15% higher than the market price on average) to farmers. This acts as a safety net for small farmers and producers when the market prices are low.

Meanwhile, rigorous Fair Trade-certified standards ensure safe and healthy working conditions, the elimination of forced/child labour, fair and consistent compensation, and environmental protections and product traceability in its supply chain.


Mezcal

Finally, if you’re looking for an eco-friendly way to enjoy this agave drink, then try this sustainable Mezcal brand:

Mezcal Verde

Seven clear bottles of sustainable Mezcal spirit, with colourful labels.

As an agave spirit, sustainability is of pressing concern to the Mezcal industry. With demand for agave products at an all-time high, some farmers have turned to environmentally damaging production methods, which threaten the agave industry’s survival.

Thankfully, responsible brands like Mezcal Amores who make Mezcal Verde (£36 for 70cl from Social Supermarket) are doing things differently. With a mission to achieve a balanced relationship with the ecosystem, it puts 15% of its net income into funding sustainability projects. It also has an agave replanting programme in place to help the conservation of agave species.


How I Found These Sustainable Spirits

Whilst there’s no universal definition of what makes a spirit sustainable, I’ve focused on the brands that are working hard to protect the environment. My criteria included:

  • Use of sustainable ingredients. This included looking out for organic and Fairtrade ingredients, and/or ingredients that would otherwise go to waste.
  • Use of sustainable packaging. Most spirits brands package their drinks in glass, so I specifically looked for brands that are going further. This includes using recycled glass, natural stoppers rather than plastic, compostable seals, and more.
  • Employs eco-friendly manufacturing processes. Many brands are finding ways to minimise their carbon footprint by using renewable energy
  • Gives back. I looked for brands that give back to charity or the local community.
  • The taste. If a spirit doesn’t taste good, it’s going to stay on your shelf going to waste. I’ve specifically looked for brands that I think taste good to help avoid waste.

PS: Check out my guide to recycled drinking glasses if you’re looking for new glasses to enjoy your spirits in!

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