Irish Distillers has announced that it is to invest €50m over the next four years to fund projects aimed at transforming its Midleton Distillery into a carbon-neutral operation by the end of 2026.

In doing so, the producer of Jameson whiskey says it will “become the first and largest carbon-neutral distillery in Ireland”.

Funding for the work to eliminate the distillery’s scope one and scope two emissions by 2026 will come in part from grant aid provided by Enterprise Ireland, according to a spokesperson.

Irish Distillers scope one emissions are those direct greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that occur from sources that are controlled or owned by the company itself.

Its scope two emissions are indirect GHG emissions associated with Irish Distillers’ purchase of electricity, heat and steam.


The plan to become carbon neutral is the latest step in Irish Distillers’ sustainability strategy. The company says the work is in line with the Pernod Ricard Group commitment to follow a net zero emissions “trajectory” by 2050.

French drinks company Pernod Ricard, which owns Irish Distillers, recorded profit from recurring operations of €2.423bn over the 12 months to 30 June 2022.

Irish Distillers itself, an employer of over 650 people between Dublin and Cork, reported a €489m turnover for the same period.

Energy projects

The carbon neutral roadmap will comprise of several projects, which will see Midleton Distillery entirely phase out the use of fossil fuels to power its operation.

The projects will firstly be aimed at reducing the overall energy use of the distillery by improving on-site energy generation efficiencies and recycling waste heat in the distillation process.

In time, the distillery’s remaining energy requirements will be fulfilled by generating power from renewable sources, according to a spokesperson.

The work to become carbon neutral will involve energy use in the whiskey distillation process.

As part of the initial phases of the roadmap, Irish Distillers says it has invested in highly efficient boilers which will require less fuel to operate.

To deliver subsequent phases of the roadmap, the company says it is working with global experts and partners on innovative mechanical vapour recompression (MVR) technology, which will see a closed-loop system capture, compress and recycle waste heat in the distilling process.

Irish Distillers says this the first time this technology has been used across multiple batch processes in distilling and that through this innovation, the first three phases of the roadmap alone are expected to reduce emissions by up to 70%.

Green hydrogen and biogas

The project's final phases will see the introduction of renewable sources of energy, including green hydrogen and biogas, to power the distillery and “close the door” on its current use of natural gas.

To achieve this, Irish Distillers says it has partnered with local experts at EI-H2 to explore opportunities to source green hydrogen.

The company says it has also carried out research in partnership with MaREI, the Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Research Centre for Energy, Climate and Marine, hosted by University College Cork, to determine the biomethane potential of the by-products of distillation and design the required anaerobic digestion process necessary to produce biogas.

Irish Distillers said it has also recently completed a mapping exercise of its entire carbon footprint and that, based on the findings, it has committed to working with suppliers on projects and initiatives to reduce scope three emissions across all areas of its business, including raw materials, dry goods, transportation, logistics and freight.

Irish Distillers says it is also working to reduce its scope three emissions, including those of barley growers.

Scope three emissions are the result of activities from assets not owned or controlled by Irish Distillers, but that it indirectly impacts in its supply chain.

The carbon efficiency of the farmers who produce barley for Irish Distillers would be included in this category.

‘Cannot ignore’

Irish Distillers operations director Tommy Keane said: “With the climate crisis at a critical juncture, Irish Distillers is committed to reducing our environmental impact across our entire value chain and an area that we cannot ignore is how we power our distillery.

“While the technical challenges the team face in transforming our operations at Midleton Distillery to become carbon neutral are considerable, we believe that with the help and support of our partners at home and across the globe, this is possible.”

Company CEO and chair Conor McQuaid said that Irish Distillers understands that its “long-term future depends on reducing our reliance on fossil fuels”.

He said he is confident that the carbon neutral roadmap will enable the distillery to “leave fossil fuels behind for good”.

Welcoming the move by the drinks company, An Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said: “Companies, like Irish Distillers, who are committing to such bold and transformational change, will lead the way for many other similar businesses and I commend the team for their ambition and commitment.”