Sustainable Spirit Company was founded in 2012 (originally under the name Green Box Drinks) specializing in environmentally friendly spirits. One of the ways they are making spirits greener is with their Eco-Pouches: 2.8 L polylaminate bags used to refill their branded bottles indefinitely. That means that just one glass bottle essentially turns into a bottomless bottle of spirits. That’s almost magic!
So, just what are they putting in those big booze bags? For now, they have two options on offer with Boxer Gin and Element 29 Vodka. Boxer is a traditional London Dry style gin, remarkable for its strong juniper flavor brightened by the citrus trio of lemon, orange and bergamot. Their “star ingredient” is Black Juniper which can only be found high up in the Himalayas. Element 29 is a British artisanal vodka made with east Anglian wheat, copper distilled and cut with Sussex spring water to achieve a clean taste with a grainy sweetness and subtle grassiness. The bottle comes complete with its own piece of copper to celebrate the element’s role in quality distilling. Copper being the 29th Element, it’s also the origin of the name.
They’ve come to town at a fortuitous time with BIB being on trend as wine shops like Bibovino or En Vrac make the “cubi” cool. What once was thought of as cheap, has a fresh new rep as something environmentally conscious, more convenient and quality. Way less packaging, way fewer bottles. According to their stats, as of 2017 the have “saved 170,652 bottles from being thrown away. That’s enough to cover nine tennis courts. 107,510kg of carbon dioxide savings have also been made since introducing our unique Eco-refill concept.” I am totally down with that.
Some details on the waste reduction benefits of going with pouches over individual bottles:
- The EcoPouchis a 95% reduction in packaging.
- There is a 45% saving in transported weight.
- There is a 45% saving in transported volume.
Okay, those are just dull numbers, right? But think about this: The energy saving from using a single EcoPouch (equivalent of 4 bottles) can power a television for two days.
Beyond the reduction of wastage of extra bottles and packaging, they also want the end user to avoid wasting any of the spirit. Sustainable Spirit Co. Brand Ambassador, Alec Falconer, explains “One other small innovation you will notice with the EcoPouch compared with a traditional ‘cubi’ is that there is a 2nd hole at the top of the pouch to pour out the last few drops. Our spirits are high value products and our clients naturally want every last drop. We believe that wastage was already less than with a traditional bottle but we have responded to this piece of customer feedback nevertheless.” Less waste, more product.
Founder Marc Hill also shared some fun facts about the product:
- In London the EcoPouch has already been re-christened the Boxer Gin Punch Bag.
- EcoPouch is the first “cubi” type pack that can be re-used and most importantly which can be completely emptied.
- Watch out for launch of EcoPouch sipping rum and 100% agave tequila coming up this early next year.
In Paris, if you want to get your hands on this sustainable spirit, it’s for sale at En Vrac. Just stop in with your bottle and fill up with the quantity needed. Otherwise, Paris bars are beginning to see the benefits in going bulk and the first to get on board was Paname Brewing Company.
PBC practices a few different eco-friendly strategies including investing in Ecotree, recycling leftovers from the brewery into baked goods, and selling their craft beer to go in refillable growlers. We spoke to one of the owners, Michael Kennedy, to see how the Boxer Gin is going over where they use it predominately in the Paname Martini with marinated ginger and cucumber as well as in the classic G&Ts.
Kennedy loves the concept of being environmentally friendly without having to lose quality. In fact, he says they haven’t fully taken advantage of the marketing aspect of the ecological factor yet, but customer feedback has been great. He tells me “At this stage I don’t think there is enough awareness about the eco side to have a real bearing on the decision so I would believe it for the taste at the moment”.
In addition to Paname Brewing Company, you can also find Boxer Gin at PopUp Bar, Le Carmen and Le Medusa. And hopefully more bars will pick up on this eco-trend soon.
This article is part of a new 52 Martinis series, “In the Greenlight”, where we highlight brands and bars that are employing sustainable and environmentally friendly practices.