Beam Suntory and Supercritical Solutions Celebrate a World-First in Journey to Net Zero Hydrogen Distilling for Whisky Production

Net Zero Hydrogen Distilling for Whisky Production

Beam Suntory and Supercritical Solutions Celebrate a World-First in Journey to Net Zero Hydrogen Distilling for Whisky Production

● Successful direct-fired distillation trial using 100% hydrogen for whisky production is a world-first achievement.
● The milestone, achieved at the Yamazaki distillery’s pilot distillery in Japan, marks positive progress for the ‘Whisky’ project, funded by UK government's Green Distilleries Competition.

Scotland, UK (11 April 2024) - Beam Suntory and Supercritical Solutions Ltd (Supercritical) are celebrating a milestone moment for the WhiskHy project as trials prove that hydrogen is a viable fuel source for direct-fired distillation. The successful trial is a world-first achievement in hydrogen distilling for whisky production .


In 2021, the WhiskHy project received green innovation project funding from the UK government to carry out feasibility studies for green hydrogen-based decarbonisation technology at Beam Suntory-owned distilleries. The funding was awarded through the Green Distilleries competition, which forms part of the Department for Energy Security & Net Zero’s ‘Net Zero Innovation Portfolio’, with the project having made considerable advancements towards zero emission distilling at an industrial scale.


As part of its Proof Positive sustainability strategy, Beam Suntory is committed to achieving net-zero carbon emissions across its entire value chain by 2040, and pursuing innovative green technology across its global distilleries to do so. This ambition provided a unique opportunity to partner with Suntory’s Yamazaki team in Japan to carry out the trial at its pilot distillery, which is specifically designed to carry out such innovative research and development.


The world-first successful trial used 100% hydrogen to directly heat the still . A part of the distilled spirit will be casked in Scotland at the Glen Garioch distillery, where it will be quality assessed as it matures. The Glen Garioch distillery recently underwent a £6 million renovation project to reinstate traditional malting floors and a direct-fired still.


‘Direct-firing’ is regarded as a traditional method of distilling, by which a direct flame is used rather than an indirect heating by steam coils. This process is key to the WhiskHy project, as it offers the potential to cut carbon emissions by up to 100% if using green hydrogen, thus rendering the process net-zero. Through associated maillard reactions, direct-firing can also enhance spirit quality and depth of character, as evidenced at the Glen Garioch distillery.


As part of Project WhiskHy, Supercritical has advanced its proprietary technology, the first ever ultra-efficient, high pressure electrolyser, which would enable a distillery to produce and store hydrogen on site, powered by local renewable power sources. The development of Supercritical’s electrolyser recently reached a milestone of its own: the establishment of its green hydrogen demonstrator in northeast England, an essential step in the journey to commercial scale deployment.


Matt Bird, CEO, Supercritical comments: “The WhiskHy project at Beam Suntory's renowned Yamazaki distillery has been a testament to the engineering prowess and dedication to net zero innovation within the group. This landmark trial not only marks a significant stride in hydrogen fuel advancement but also sets the stage for ongoing progress and collaboration. Our partnership with Beam Suntory is poised to remove the premium of green hydrogen, leveraging our cutting-edge technology for a sustainable future.”


Alistair Longwell, Head of Distilling and Environment, Beam Suntory, adds: “As a company, we are intent on pushing the boundaries of green innovation. We have an ambition to achieve net zero emissions across our entire value chain by 2040, and it is through unique collaborative projects such as WhiskHy that we will get there. We are thrilled to have achieved this new milestone and look forward to continuing our progress with Supercritical as we pursue a more sustainable, resilient future for our industry.”


Lord Callanan, Minister for Energy Efficiency and Green Finance, comments: “After visiting Supercritical last year and seeing their exciting technologies first-hand, I am thrilled they have reached this new milestone alongside Beam Suntory – with the potential to kickstart a new clean green whisky industry. By backing the project with £2.9 million in government support, we are helping businesses seize the opportunities of hydrogen and cut their emissions on the journey to net zero.”


Katsunori Kurihara, COO of Spirits, Wine Development & Production Division at Suntory Spirits Ltd, adds: “Ever since we began whisky making at the Yamazaki Distillery in 1923, we have been striving to craft with a relentless pursuit of perfection and persistent innovation. The whisky business embodies Suntory’s philosophy ‘to inspire the brilliance of life by creating rich experiences for people, in harmony with nature’. To coexist with people and nature, and to aspire to produce Suntory Whisky beloved by all, we will work towards a net zero goal while maintaining the quality craftsmanship of our whiskies.”


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About Beam Suntory

As a world leader in premium spirits, Beam Suntory inspires the brilliance of life by delivering great consumer experiences through its world-class portfolio of brands. Known for its craftsmanship of premium whiskies, including Jim Beam®, Maker's Mark®, Basil Hayden® and Knob Creek® bourbons; Japanese whiskies, including Yamazaki®, Hakushu®, Hibiki® and Toki™; and leading Scotch brands including Teacher's, Laphroaig® and Bowmore®, Beam Suntory also produces leading brands such as Courvoisier® cognac, Tres Generaciones®, El Tesoro® and Hornitos® tequila, Roku™ and Sipsmith® gin, Canadian Club® whisky, and is a world leader in ready-to-drink cocktails, with brands like -196 and On The Rocks™ Premium Cocktails.


A global company with approximately 6,000 employees in more than 30 countries, one of Beam Suntory's core values is Growing for Good and through its Proof Positive sustainability strategy, the company has committed to ambitious goals and investments to promote environmental sustainability in its operations, ensure the company has a positive impact on the communities where employees live and work, and programs to educate and inform consumers to make the right personal choices about drinking. Headquartered in New York City, Beam Suntory is a subsidiary of Suntory Holdings Limited of Japan. For more information on Beam Suntory, its brands, and its commitment to social responsibility, please visit and

About Supercritical Solutions Ltd

Supercritical's vision extends to achieving a cost of less than <£1 /kgH2 this decade. By taking a distinctive approach to combat electrolyser system inefficiencies, Supercritical aims to be the catalyst that will drive the shift in industry from grey to green. Their electrolyser is membrane-free, iridium-free, and compressor-free, eliminating supply chain risks and presenting a scalable answer to a market eager for advancement.

About the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero

The Department for Energy Security and Net Zero provides dedicated leadership focused on delivering security of energy supply, ensuring properly functioning markets, greater energy efficiency and seizing the opportunities of net zero to lead the world in new green industries.


The Green Distillery Competition is part of the Department’s £1 billion Net Zero Innovation Portfolio which provides funding for low-carbon technologies and systems and aims to decrease the costs of decarbonisation helping enable the UK to end its contribution to climate change.

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