Becoming a Sustainable Gin Distillery

We felt it was time to share a little more about some of the steps we’re taking and the endeavours we hope to make to become an ever more sustainable gin distillery. 

Foraging our botanicals

Since we moved our production into our Gin Cottage at Kingsbarns Distillery we’ve been proud to release an annual addition to our Cottage Series of gins that is inspired by and showcases the variety of botanicals growing in the East Neuk of Fife. Over the last year or so I’ve been able to ramp my local botanical knowledge up by working with our forager, Leanne Townsend. She’s shown me through walks of our local area just how diverse a selection we have here on our doorstep, so much so that when out walking with the family I keep getting excited by spotting something she’s shown me previously!

Foraging does have its limitations though, especially when doing it for commercial purposes, as you need to stick to guidelines and laws. We must always have the landowner’s permission and, more importantly, do this in a sustainable manner.

Our journey started with our Original Gin, which showcases the beauty of elderflower which grows in abundance all around our distillery and all across fife, hence it being our inspiration for Darnley's Gin. If we were, however, to go out every summer and pick these elder trees clean of their flowers, then come winter time they wouldn’t produce any elderberries.

Elderberries aren’t only an amazing botanical which I used in our first Cottage Series gin, but they are a vital part of our local wildlife’s food chain. If we stripped all the flowers we would deprive our local ecosystems. This is why our work with Leanne is paramount, ensuring we’re reducing our botanical miles without negatively impacting our local environment. 

Refill gin pouches

Our first step on our drive to reduce our carbon emissions was to review our packaging, beginning with extending the life of our existing glass bottles. To help combat single use glass, which involves vast amounts of energy to produce, we’ve launched a range of refill pouches across our core gin series. We fill these ultra-light pouches by hand at the gin cottage, which are substantially lighter to transport than our glass bottles, using less energy to shipped to you. Plus they’re fully recyclable – simply post them back to us to be recycled by our partner. It couldn’t be easier to refill your favourite gin to enjoy again and again!

Alternatively, you can bring your old bottles back us for recycling and we’ll give you a discount on your next purchase. We then take these bottles and turn them into candles with our friends at Tipsy House, using recycled cotton wicks and environmentally friendly soya wax. And this isn’t just for your Darnley’s bottles, we’ll also take back bottles from our sister brands Kingsbarns Distillery and Wemyss Malts. 

Recycled bottle candles

We also offer a recycling scheme to offer out 70cl glass bottles a second life by transforming them into candles. The candles contain eco-soy wax making them not only environmentally friendly but vegan friendly too. In addition, all the candles are poured by hand meaning this is genuinely ‘hand-crafted’. Check out our candles and how you could be rewarded for your efforts to recycle.

Something new is coming...

We’re working hard at the Gin Cottage to find new ways to reduce our botanical miles, growing, foraging and sourcing as many of our botanicals as possible right from Fife. If you’ve visited our distillery recently you might have noticed some big changes happening right outside our cottage, but you’ll have to wait a little longer before we share exactly what we’re up to…

We’re incredibly proud of where we are, but we know there’s still so much more to do. Thank you for joining us on this journey, and if you have any suggestions for us, please do reach out! 



Written by Scott Gowans, Darnley's Gin distiller

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