Fancy some ‘pea gin’? Meet Abertay Uni’s world’s first climate positive beverage
Scientists from Abertay University and the James Hutton Institute, in collaboration with Arbikie Distillery have partnered to formulate the world’s first climate-positive gin named Nádar, made from garden peas.
Researchers claim that each bottle of the pea gin has a carbon footprint of -1.54 kg carbon dioxide equivalent. This means that this world’s first ‘climate positive’ gin creates less carbon dioxide than it emits in its production process.
The team took five years of research to produce Nádar, which gets its name from the Scottish Gaelic word for nature. The production process of pea gin has a positive effect on the environment compared to its traditional, wheat-based counterparts that all have larger carbon footprints.
Pea gin production is 12% smaller in its global warming burden, 48% smaller in acidification burden and 68% smaller in eutrophication burden compared to its counterparts.
This achievement was possible by utilising all useful components of peas in the production process and due to the inherent properties of the legume.
The researchers used the peas’ natural ability to source essential nitrogen for growth from the atmosphere. This process, inherent to peas is called nitrogen fixation and removes the need for synthetic fertilisers which are more damaging to the environment.
In addition, as the peas are harvested, residual nitrogen left in the ground due to its nitrogen-fixing properties improves soil fertility providing nutrients for the next crop cycle.
A by-product known as ‘pot ale’ which is produced during the distillation process can be used as animal feed due to its high protein content. The first batch of Arbikie pea gin pot ale is currently being used to as cow-feed in local farms.
Abertay plant scientist and Aebikie’s Master Distiller, Kirsty Black, said the finished gin product is flavoured using natural botanicals, including lemongrass and citrus leaf, contributing to a fresh and fruity aroma.
Black added that from year to year, there is a significant change in weather, harvest timings, and crop quality, all of which can be attributed to the climate crisis.
“By producing the world’s first climate-positive gin, we are taking initial steps towards improving our environmental impact, while demonstrating what can be achieved when like-minded researchers and businesses come together,” she added.
The researchers believe that this discovery unlocks great potential for producing other environmentally friendly alcoholic beverages such as vodka and beer, and industrial biofuel.
Graeme Walker, Professor of Zymology at Abertay, commented on this discovery, “This project is an excellent example of what can be achieved with the right blend of academic expertise and industry know-how.”
Agroecologist at the James Hutton Institute Pietro Iannetta said that the climate change crisis demands far greater respect for natural resources that have previously been afforded. He added that there is a need for more efficient use of resources, and the best place to start is locally.