General News / June 20, 2024

Is Lambay Whiskey Opening The Greenest Distillery Ever? 

General News / June 20, 2024

Is Lambay Whiskey Opening The Greenest Distillery Ever? 

Words: Hannah Lemass

Lambay Whiskey is the tasty result of a joint venture between the Baring family and House of Camus, the world’s leading family-owned cognac producer. Since 2017, this unique collection of whiskeys has captured the essence of the Irish Sea and made a splash internationally, with a presence in over 30 markets worldwide.

The precious elixir is finished in the Island’s Sea Cask Room in Camus Cognac Casks. Now, the brand is ushering in a new era by building an off-grid micro distillery right on the grounds of beautiful Lambay.

The Magic of Lambay Island

The waters around Ireland are speckled with a smattering of islands. Each has its charms and rugged beauty, but one stands out as a mysterious beacon of intrigue. It’s almost the stuff of legend. A small island just shy of on square mile and four km off the coast of our most populous city. A place that we have all heard of but few have had the chance to step foot on. Rumours swirl of a troupe of wallabies inhabiting the picturesque land. Something you heard on the schoolyard and scoffed at as a pure stupid notion. But it’s true. Lambay is home to a family of wallabies and a a vibrant ecosystem of other flora and fauna too. Birds such as puffins, cormorants, kittiwakes, shags, and gulls, along with cattle, seals, and fallow deer all call the honeycombed terrains and crashing waters of Lambay Island home.

In fact, the island is incredibly vital for biodiversity and conservation. It is recognised as internationally important as a Natura 2000 site designated for breeding seabirds. It is also home to the largest breeding colony of North Atlantic Grey Seals on the east coast of Ireland. Several new species were discovered during pioneering biological investigations on the island in 1906. Lambay is truly an essential hub of nature conservation. With a landscape that is as untouched by human interface as possible. A canvas painted in untamed greenery. The aura here is almost mythical. Time stands still with the history of ancient Ireland hanging heavy in the air.

The History

Today, Lambay still closely resembles what it was back in 1904 when newly-weds Cecil and Maude Baring made the island their home, sparing no expense to create their romantic paradise. The family has cared for the property and lands ever since. Traditions meet nature here under the stewardship of the Baring family. The entire island is off-grid, powered by wind and solar energy for all its needs. Water is supplied by a fresh spring, which of course is also used in the production of the whiskey.

Before the Barings, the island which is the remnants of an ancient volcano, was the site of many shipwrecks. Early inhabitants are not well documented, but we can speculate that hermits, pirates and even saints may have been among the few drawn to the solitary isle. It’s also believed to be one of the first places Viking raiders landed.

Sustainability First
The addition of the micro distillery is a major milestone for the whiskey makers and for the further preservation of the island itself. This step will maintain the mission of sustainability, tradition, and commitment to environmentalism that is the spirit of the brand.

A pre-existing protected building on the island will be repurposed to house the micro distillery. Inside the old farm shed, two locally crafted 1,500-litre copper stills will be used to transform organic Irish grain into delicious, silky smooth single malt. The production cycle is based on a circular economy. By-products from the distilling process will be fed to livestock living on the island, removing the need to import animal feed from the mainland.

Running a distillery on an island with no mains power supply seems impossible, but the team at Lambay Whiskey is committed to their green policy. A generator run on Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil will keep the operation going. The excess heat generated from the process will be recovered and used to heat the island’s main structure, an historic 15th-century castle, which was rebuilt in 1910.

This ambitious project, the first of its kind in the Irish whiskey field, has been three years in the making. The new space is set to be completed by November, with the first distillation taking place before Christmas. Once distilled, the whiskey will be stored away in the Sea Cask Room for a minimum of three years. Afterward, the high-quality single malt whiskey will be ready to enjoy.