Copperworks is dedicated to minimizing water usage, energy consumption, and waste production throughout our operations. As a business located on Seattle’s valuable and vulnerable waterfront, we take sustainability seriously.
Capture every precious drop
Unlike most distillers in the U.S., we distill our whiskey two times, using two different stills. This enables us to save what isn’t used in the first cut (the “heads” and “tails”) and blend it into the next batch, which is the key to how Copperworks creates its distinctive house flavor. It also means we’re sending less liquid down the drain.
Thermal energy from biomass
Our copper stills are heated by energy produced from a sustainable, non-fossil fuel source called “biomass”—essentially clean waste wood—which is renewable and doesn’t add new carbon to the atmosphere.
Our neighbor, Seattle Steam Company, produces thermal energy (steam) by burning clean wood debris in its biomass boiler and delivers it in underground pipes to our distillery. Seattle Steam burns only clean waste wood—wood that is unpainted, not treated with chemical preservatives, and is free of non‐combustible materials. This includes debris such as broken pallets, construction demolition wood and wood waste from saw mills.
An important step in the distillation process is turning alcohol vapor into liquid using a condenser. We run the vapor through small-diameter copper tubes that are surrounded by cold water which cools the vapor and turns it back into liquid. To minimize water usage in this process, Copperworks installed a 500-gallon cooling tower on top of the six-story building, 96-year-old building in which we’re located.
Cold water is piped from the cooling tower down to our condenser on the ground floor. The water flows into the bottom of the condenser and cools the copper tubes containing vapor. The tubes warm the water and the hot water and resulting are piped back up to the cooling tower.
Re-circulating the same 500 gallons of water per batch in a continuous loop means Copperworks is essentially moving about 70,000 gallons of water per day.
A fundamental principle for Copperworks is to work with local partners whenever possible. (Admittedly, a major exception to this was our with stills. But traditional Scottish stills pretty much have to come from Scotland…)
But we’re thrilled we were able to work with local architects and contractors to create the Copperworks facility. Our fermenters were made in Vancouver, WA. Our wash is provided by local beer legends. The majority of our malt comes from Washington. Our t-shirts are printed locally. The list goes on…