Sustainability

Sustainability Priorities

Sustainable business practices that support environmental protection and promote strong communities are a fundamental part of Copperworks business philosophy. We’re dedicated to minimizing water usage, energy consumption, and waste production throughout our operations. And we have focused on partnering with small farmers and using/promoting locally grown malts.

Water Conservation and Waste Reduction

A critical step in the distillation process is turning alcohol vapor into liquid using a condenser. We run the alcohol vapor through small-diameter copper tubes that are surrounded by cold water which cools the vapor and turns it into liquid.

To minimize water usage in this process, Copperworks installed a 500-gallon cooling tower on top of our waterfront location. The tower enables us to re-use the same 500 gallons of water to produce each batch of spirits— dramatically reducing the amount of water required by our distilling processes.

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.

In 2022, the 51 University Building (which the Copperworks Distillery and Tasting Room call home) was awarded a Platinum Dumpster Award. Each year, Recology King County, Seattle Public Utilities, and the Building Owners and Managers Association Seattle King County celebrate the green achievements of local properties with the Golden Dumpster Awards. The awards recognize properties who are implementing best practices to reduce waste, decrease solid waste management costs, and conserve natural resources. Platinum Dumpster winners are previous Golden Dumpster winners who have continued to improve their performance.

Environmental Protection

Release 039 and Release 046 of Copperworks American Single Malt Whiskey, released in 2021 and 2022, respectively, are the first Salmon-Safe certified whiskeys released in the U.S. Salmon-Safe is a certification that farmers, vineyards, campuses, and other lands can qualify for if they demonstrate a commitment to protecting the water, biodiversity, and stewardship of good farming. Those protections, in turn, protect salmon living in nearby streams.

In creating these releases of our American Single Malt Whiskey, we used barley grown on a local farm certified as Salmon-Safe. That enables us to classify this release as Salmon-Safe. This release demonstrates that great whiskey can be produced using environmentally sound farming practices without affecting the price or quality of the product.

Renewable Energy

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 on the Seattle waterfront, CenTrio, produces thermal energy (steam) by burning clean wood debris in its biomass boiler and delivers it in underground pipes to our distillery. CenTrio 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.

Craft Malt Certified™

Copperworks is proud to be a Craft Malt Certified™ Distillery. While we officially earned this certification in 2021 (launched by the Craft Maltsters Guild in September 2019), we’ve met the standards for eligibility for the past seven years. To earn and maintain the Craft Malt Certified seal, we must ensure at least 10% of craft malt counts toward our annual malt purchases. For the past few years, craft malt has made up over 80% of our malt purchases. How is craft malt defined?  In short terms, craft malt is small, local, and independent.Small: A craft maltster produces between 5 and 10,000 metric tons of malt annually.Local: At least 50% of grain must be sourced within a 500-mile radius of the malthouse. (This gives maltsters flexibility in sourcing during bad crop years.)

Independent: The malthouse must be independently owned by a 76% or higher majority.

Community Support

Copperworks supports nonprofit organizations based in Washington State with a focused program of in-kind donations. We’ve chosen to concentrate our giving to nonprofit organizations which work toward environmental protection and conservation of natural resources, economic development for farming communities, breast and ovarian cancer research, and job creation in the food/beverage industry.

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