Skip to main content

Here’s a news story sure to charm both environmental advocates and scotch whisky fans: Glenfiddich is converting its fleet of delivery trucks to run on byproducts of the distilling process. But it’s not the byproduct you might think.

Many countries are using an increasing amount of ethanol mixed into pump gasoline. Ethanol contains enough ethyl alcohol that it combusts in your engine just like regular gasoline. And it is distilled in much the same way as whisky and other spirits. In the U.S., at least, much of the ethanol in pump gasoline is distilled from surplus corn. So when I heard Glenfiddich was powering its delivery trucks with its distilling-process byproducts, I assumed it was burning distilled alcohol that was either surplus or inadequate to scotch production. But that’s not the case.

Glenfiddich is a single malt scotch primarily made from barley. After the malting process, the company has heaps of spent barley left over. In the past, it sold this high-protein grain to cattle feed producers. You certainly can’t burn barley in a truck engine. But Glenfiddich got creative to produce another byproduct that you can: bio gas.

Green Glenfiddich semi truck that is powered by Scotch whisky byproducts
Iveco semi truck | Glenfiddich

The company found that if it keeps all this organic matter, bacteria will produce helpful gas as it breaks the barley down. This process is called anaerobic digestion, and is an increasingly common way to synthesize a biofuel much like natural gas.

Glenfiddich then bought a series of Iveco trucks built to run on liquefied natural gas. After minor modifications, the company was able to pour its “biogas” into the tanks and deliver their scotch.

The Scottish whisky industry is attempting to hit carbon net zero by 2040. Stuart Watts is the distillery director at William Grant & Sons, which owns Glenfiddich. He said of the biofuel project, “The thought process behind this was ‘what can we do that’s better for us all?'”

The project is part of the company’s “closed loop” initiative. After a test phase, William Grant & Sons wants to expand it beyond just the Glenfiddich distillery.

Next, learn about a daring Champagne truck heist in rural France or see Glenfiddich’s whisky-byproduct-powered trucks in action for yourself in the video below: