Friday 21st July 2017
Gin lovers have been quaffing the spirit in record amounts over the last year and with the emergence of new-style gins and premium mixers, there are no signs that demand will slow down. Those thinking of taking on the challenge of distilling craft gin in the countryside can rely on the proven benefits of using LPG as a consistent and low carbon source of energy to fuel the distilling and fermenting processes that are at the heart of spirit production.
More than 50 new distilleries opened in the UK in 2016, showing the "explosive creativity" of craft spirits, according to a study from accountancy group UHY Hacker Young.
From central London to the Scottish Highlands and the Welsh Valleys, artisan distillers are creating new and exciting brands but the landscape is increasingly competitive and varieties are growing as fast as demand.
Last month HMRC reported that gin drinking rose 12% last year, with British drinkers consuming 40m bottles, enough to make 1.2bn gin and tonics or 28 for every person over legal drinking age.
However, an astute business approach coupled with creative technique and subtle changes to ingredients will underpin long-term success, and off-grid energy is one of the key overheads that will influence performance and quality as well as impacting the environment.
Some long-established whisky distilleries have decided to switch from heavy fuel oil to LPG to cut carbon and save money. A whole, new LPG system can be installed and up and running within a week, with minimum disruption to production, meaning distilleries can start to reap the benefits immediately.
Many traditional distilleries are located off the gas grid and some in Scotland benefited from funding from the UK Green Investment Bank (GIB) to replace their existing fuel oil boilers to improve energy efficiency.
One award-winning distillery initially introduced a biomass boiler - a fuel option previously unused in the Scottish distilling industry. However, the biomass system alone was unable to supply enough energy for the entire energy-intensive distilling process, so after consulting with others in the industry, it decided to convert its inefficient, expensive and polluting 10MW oil boiler to LPG.
Tried and tested in distilleries, as well as being a low carbon fuel, LPG has a very well established supply infrastructure, and bulk tank storage fitted with new telemetry means that supply is reliable.
As LPG is a clean fuel that functions in the same way as natural gas, maintenance is kept to a minimum meaning that entrepreneurs entering this new and exciting market can focus on the creative elements of bringing exciting new spirits to the drinks market.
Certainly, something to celebrate.
To find out more about how LPG is helping to fuel the UK's rural business community please click here.
By Rob Shuttleworth, UKLPG Chief Executive
The trade association for the LPG and bioLPG industry in the UK