The drinks giant completed recently a £105M investment programme to expand the plant – the largest grain distillery in Scotland. The investment included anaerobic digestion, biomass conversion, reverse osmosis and ultra-filtration systems.
Cameron said: “Whisky is an iconic product with a rich heritage and a fantastic future. It is a truly global brand. It was a real pleasure to see the Cameronbridge distillery. It is at the cutting edge of the spirits industry, a world leader in embracing bioenergy technology and a major contributor to Scotland's economy.”
Diageo claimed its investment was a global first in combining renewable energy and water treatment technologies with the potential to make the distillery one of the world’s most environmentally sustainable.
‘Environmental sustainability in distilling’
David Gosnell, the distiller’s president of global supply and procurement, said: “Cameronbridge Distillery is a global flagship for Diageo, representing the scale of our ambition for the sustainable growth of our business. The distillery is at the forefront of innovation in renewable energy and sets a new benchmark for environmental sustainability in distilling, not just in Scotland, but on a world stage.”
During his visit, Cameron viewed the distillery’s gin stillhouse to see how gin brands – including Tanqueray – are produced using the site’s new renewable energy facility.
The bioenergy plant generates energy from spent wash, which is a mixture of wheat, malted barley, yeast and water produced during distillation. The spent wash is separated into liquid and dried solids. The liquid is then converted, via anaerobic digestion, into biogas and the dried solids form a biomass fuel source.
The Prime Minister also met a group of apprentices at the distillery who work across a range of engineering, scientific and craft roles. Diageo employs 45 apprentices at present and plans to recruit more as its investment programme unfolds.
Gosnell said: “We are particularly pleased to have had the opportunity to introduce the Prime Minister to some of our apprentices who represent the future of our business, a future which we are working to make as prosperous and sustainable as possible through the investment and innovation we have seen at Cameronbridge.”
Cameron marked his visit by hammering the bung into a cask of Cameron Brig single grain spirit produced using renewable energy from the bioenergy plant. The cask will be matured for 10 years before being auctioned for charity.
Scotch is the distiller’s strongest performing global spirits category, generating 10% net sales growth. Whisky industry exports generate £135-per-second for the UK balance of trade last year, said Diageo.
Last June the firm announced plans to spend £1bn on expanding whisky production, including building a new malt whisky distillery, expanding existing distilleries and building extensive new warehousing capacity.