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Sustainable approach to whisky production at the Sabromaru distillery

The highly thermally efficient and durable cast pot still ‘ZEMON’ was jointly developed.

The Sabromaru Distillery has jointly developed the world’s first cast pot still ‘ZEMON’ with a manufacturer of Takaoka copperware, utilising the technology of Takaoka copperware, a traditional craft in Takaoka City, Toyama Prefecture. The ZEMON’s cast bronze body is 2.5 times thicker than conventional wrought pot stills, and its high heat storage capacity cuts fuel consumption by about half and reduces CO2 emissions. The durability of the thick bronze is expected to withstand use for more than 80 years, contributing to the effective use of resources and waste reduction.

To protect the region’s abundant water and nature, the barrels were jointly developed from Quercus mongolica var. mongolica from Toyama Prefecture.

Quercus crispula used to be used as fuelwood, but now that demand has decreased, old trees that have not been cut down and left in the forests are infested with insects that carry infectious diseases, causing oak wilt. On the other hand, Mizunara oak as a raw material for whisky maturing casks is highly valued worldwide as ‘Japanese oak’.
The Sanromaru distillery worked with forestry companies and woodworkers in the Iba region of Nanto, Toyama, known as the ‘City of Wood Carving’, to develop a Toyama-produced Mizunara oak cask, which was commercialised as the ‘Sanshiro Cask’. As well as aiming to produce high quality, locally rooted whisky, the initiative also supports the effective use of local timber, environmental conservation and the survival of the local forestry and woodworking industry. Scrap wood from the Mizunara oak trees generated during the barrel production process is used as whisky boxes, coasters, muddlers and other goods at the Saburomaru distillery, and as firewood for cooking rice and smoke wood for smoking at the attached restaurant, making effective use of all the wood in the region.

The whisky maturing cellar makes use of natural energy.

Maturing is an important production process for whisky, and proper temperature and humidity control is required to maintain this environment. The whisky maturing cellar at the Sabromaru distillery has a well water cooler that utilises groundwater and a roof sprinkler system, and makes maximum use of natural energy to create a maturing environment that reduces the amount of electricity used.

The collection of No. 3 wort reduces environmental impact and makes effective use of raw materials, water and energy.

In the saccharification and filtration processes of whisky production, heat exchange between heating and cooling takes place many times, and at the same time a large amount of water is used. There are methods to reduce the consumption of heat energy and water while recovering sugar by using the third wort obtained in the filtration process as the next brewing water, but it is difficult for small distilleries with low production volumes to obtain benefits that are worth the cost, and the reality is that few distilleries are able to do this. The Sabromaru distillery uses No. 3 wort because of the benefits of using this wort, which include the effective use of raw materials and water resources, reduced heat energy consumption and CO2 emissions, as well as the recovery of more smoky components to enhance the flavour.

Malt lees from the production process are provided as fertiliser to the local livestock industry.

Malt dregs from the whisky production process are provided to dairy farmers in Toyama Prefecture as feed. This is an initiative that benefits both parties: the dairy farmers are able to obtain feed with low cost and traceability, and the Saburomaru distillery is able to make effective use of waste. Malt dregs left over from the production process are difficult to store due to their high water content, making them unusable as feed. The Sabromaru distillery has installed a dedicated press and supports the local livestock industry by providing an easy-to-use feed for dairy farmers.