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December 2021 – Woodford Distillery

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Saving the Planet One Sip at a Time

Among the many positive aspects of working for Environmental Standards is that we engage environmental professionals that are passionately working to make their companies more sustainable while continuing to economically provide the products that all of us enjoy and count on for modern living.  Whether the industry is oil and gas, chemical, manufacturing, railroad or food and beverage, all are seeking ways to reduce their footprint on the planet.

In September, a few of us from our firm had the good fortune (and self-proclaimed wisdom) to escape the office and head to Kentucky’s bourbon trail to partake in one of our favorite past times – bourbon tasting.  The highlight of the trip was a tour and tasting at Woodford Reserve, led by Assistant Master Distiller, Elizabeth McCall, a Certified Specialist of Spirits (CSS).  At the conclusion of our experience, Elizabeth was rushing off to an offsite meeting.  “Where to?” – to a sustainability meeting!  Now she had our attention even more.

As Elizabeth informed us, Brown-Forman, the owner of the Woodford Distillery and brand, has embarked on a market-leading sustainability initiative.  While the main ingredient in Woodford, corn, is grown locally in Kentucky, Woodford and other regional distillers currently source their rye and malted barley from Europe and Canada, given the ideal climate and soil conditions in those regions.  The makers of Woodford see an opportunity to change that practice and reduce the carbon footprint from transportation if they can source those grains locally.  Further, growing rye and malted barley in Kentucky provides local farmers with protective ground cover and a no-till crop, reducing soil erosion – the proverbial win-win.

One thing that Woodford will not compromise is their brand.  In fact, they maintain a sample container of a physical Woodford “standard” in their quality laboratory to which all batches are compared, much like an analytical standard we use for environmental matrices.  To achieve their goal, Brown-Forman has partnered with the American Farmland Trust, the University of Kentucky, regional farmers and the DendriFund, a nonprofit foundation managed by the Brown family of Brown-Forman.  In addition to focusing on sustainable grain production, the DendriFund is also pursuing best practices in water and wood necessary to produce our beloved bourbon. 

It goes without saying that we at Environmental Standards wish the Brown-Forman team and their partners huge success on their initiative! Cheers!

Kevin Renninger

Director of Business Development/Principal