Boatyard Distillery is Fermanagh’s first legal distillery since 1890, taking its name from the disused Boatyard it is built on. Local man, Joe McGirr, set up the Distillery in 2016 with an ambition to make a gin so perfect for Martinis that it would be poured in the world’s finest bars and restaurants around the world.
Why did sustainability become such a big feature of your business?
“Sustainability was always important to the business. That said, we didn’t set out to create a sustainable business. We set out to become a great gin distillery. We took decisions that would not fall under the word ‘sustainability’, but they were practical decisions that make sense on many levels. A sustainable approach is a practical approach and it just made sense to us at every step of the journey.”
What have the key sustainability initiatives been?
Becoming a B Corp Boatyard
The business launched a Green Team called ‘Better Boatyard’ in 2022 with the task of improving the overall sustainability and governance of the business. Through the Better Boatyard Journey, the business brought in many changes across its processes. In 2023, Boatyard Distillery became the first distillery on the island of Ireland to gain the prestigious B Corp Certification. This is an international and coveted designation that a business is meeting high standards of verified performance, accountability, and transparency on factors from employee benefits and charitable giving to supply chain practices and input materials.
“Our journey to B Corp status brought about a mindset shift in the business and inspired the team to constantly improve on their practices. Everyone has changed in the business. Their way of thinking has changed. The ideas are flowing now” Joe McGirr, Boatyard Distillery
A Circular Distillery
Boatyard Distillery has created a culture within the business of repurposing and reusing items to combat waste. Here are some of the practices in place:
- Bottles are made from recycled flint glass
- Bottle labels are made from recycled paper and produced by James Cropper a leading business in circular design for fibre recovery
- Shipping cartons are made from recycled pulp
- Pallet wrap is made of recycled pallet wrap
- Business cards are made of recycled Costa Coffee cups
- Promotional gift bags are made of recycled Kraft card
- Some gin fruit is sent to local cocktail bars for their drinks
- Other fruit from gin production goes to an Indian chutney producer and others made into a new Boatyard marmalade
- Botanicals created from gin production are used as a signature ingredient in the Boatyard Bean to bar chocolate
- Sloes from gin production are used to produce a Sloe boat conserve
- Remainder of solid waste goes to composting and liquid waste goes to anaerobic digesters which give electric back into the grid
- Old Tom barrels are repurposed to make furniture
- Spent grain from vodka production is sent to the family farm and used to feed animals.