Distilleries raise a glass to cost and carbon savings from liquid gas

J&A Mitchell & Co is switching to using liquid gas at both of its Campbeltown distilleries.
J&A Mitchell & Co is switching to using liquid gas at both of its Campbeltown distilleries.

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Whisky producer J & A Mitchell & Co is switching its energy supply from gas oil to liquid gas at its two Campbeltown distilleries in a bid to operate more efficiently and avoid the imminent withdrawal of tax relief on red diesel.

As a result of switching to Flogas at Springbank and Glengyle distilleries, the family-run company is set to cut energy costs by up to 18 per cent, even before the subsidy changes, while also reducing carbon emissions by more than 20 per cent.

It will also minimise other pollutant emissions, making it compliant with the government’s Medium Combustion Plant Directive (MCPD), which regulates against air pollution.

Springbank, the larger of the two distilleries, has been in operation since 1828, while Glengyle, just 200 metres away, was refurbished and re-opened in 2004.

Using traditional distillation methods, they produce ‘Scotland’s most handmade whiskies’. At the heart of their operation are two steam boilers which, until now, have used gas oil as their primary fuel source.

‘Springbank is an old distillery that was never designed with efficiency or sustainability in mind, so we’ve had to make improvements whilst making sure we don’t affect our original distillation process or popular final product,’ said Findlay Ross, director of production at J & A Mitchell & Co.

‘Glengyle reopened more recently and has more modern design features, however, we’re always looking to improve our energy efficiency.

‘The old boiler at Springbank originally ran on coal, then heavy oil and most recently gas oil. We replaced this in 2017 with a much more efficient boiler, but we knew we had to move away from oil and find a more future-proof energy solution at some point.

‘It was the best way to make huge cost and emissions reductions in one go, without affecting our production process.

‘The planned withdrawal of the red diesel fuel subsidy in April 2022 accelerated our decision. We did the calculations and staying on oil would have had a major impact on our energy bills.

‘We initially looked at anaerobic digestion, but it wasn’t feasible for us, as we don’t produce enough organic waste for a consistent feed.

‘That’s when we started looking at liquid gas. We knew other companies in the area were making significant cost and emissions savings and we wanted to tap into that.’

J & A Mitchell & Co approached liquid gas specialist Flogas and, working in partnership with energy solutions firm Protech and burner manufacturer Weishaupt UK, Protech designed a tailored solution to meet the requirements for both sites.

At Springbank, the team is upgrading its existing burner to a dual fuel model, making liquid gas the primary fuel source, while at Glengyle, it is installing a new digital Weishaupt dual fuel burner.

Liquid gas tanks between the two sites fuel both systems using underground pipework.

J&A Mitchell & Co is switching to using liquid gas at both of its Campbeltown distilleries.
J&A Mitchell & Co is switching to using liquid gas at both of its Campbeltown distilleries.

‘Liquid gas is a much more reliable fuel source for us,’ added Mr Ross, ‘and because our tanks are fitted with auto-ordering technology, we’ll never have to worry about being caught out.

‘Running on more modern burners and switching to liquid gas is going to make us so much more efficient.

‘Also, the cost savings are going to be significant, even before the red diesel subsidy withdrawal, which means we can invest in other important areas of the business.’

Ross Docherty, director at Protech, said: ‘We’ve worked closely with the team at J & A Mitchell & Co to provide a solution that meets their needs. This project has been a great example of real collaboration with the experts at Flogas and Weishaupt to bring it together.

‘Both distilleries can now look forward to a modernised energy solution that will make them more efficient, MCPD compliant and future-proof their burner plant as fuels and controls evolve.’

Garry Wilson at Flogas added: ‘Together with Protech and Weishaupt, we’ve been able to help J & A Mitchell & Co take a major step forward in becoming more fit-for-the-future.

‘With the red diesel duty increasing imminently, the company will be avoiding a big outlay. It’s also made big headway in cutting emissions, which helps with internal targets and means it is MCPD compliant well ahead of the 2025 deadline.

‘When the time comes to consider a carbon neutral future, it will also be able to move over to BioLPG without any equipment changes, so it’s on the path to net zero.’