The Arbikie Estate is a 2,000-acre farm in Angus, on the east coast of Scotland. Since five years ago, when siblings John, Iain and David Stirling built a distillery in an old barn on the property, their mission has been to operate sustainably, using only ingredients grown on the farm. Those might include juniper for Master Distiller Kirsty Black’s gin, or honey harvested from bee colonies on the farm, or citrus and chiles grown in tunnels underground.
Recently, Black partnered with Abertay University and the James Hutton Institute to produce what they claim is the first “climate positive” spirit. Dubbed Nàdar (“nature” in Gaelic), the spirit is distilled from peas. The “pot ale”—normally a waste product left after distilling—in this case goes to feed cows on a neighboring farm. That fuels the company’s “climate positive” claim, as the farm would otherwise use soybean-based feed, which is commonly imported from cleared rain-forest areas. They’ve run the numbers to show that substituting pot ale for feed mitigates more emissions than the spirit’s production creates.
Peas are also a great nitrogen sink, as the plants take the gas from the atmosphere and fix it in the soil, which improves fertility and eliminates the need for nitrogen-based fertilizers (another factor in Arbikie’s climate positivity calculation). The legumes complete Arbikie’s seven-year crop rotation of peas, barley and potatoes, a combinationthat can help rejuvenate soils. Organizations such as Zero Foodprint have pinned high hopes on the capacity of healthy soils to sequester atmospheric CO2 to help slow global warming.
Nàdar, the spirit, conveys a delicate, pale green pea-shell character complemented by scents of Kaffir lime, lemongrass and orange. The light, summery flavors would be right at home in a classic gin and tonic, or add a bouquet of mint along with the lime wedge, then sit back and enjoy the summer heat.
You can purchase Nàdar directly from Arbikie here.
This story appears in the print issue of June 2020.
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