A student has joined forces with one of Speyside’s most famous distilleries to find out how climate change will impact the production of Scotland’s national drink.
Jessica Fennell will be spending her time between Aberdeen University and the Glenlivet Distillery, owned by Chivas Brothers, for her upcoming PhD project.
The 25-year-old, who is originally from Plymouth, will work with experts from the whisky producers to try and find natural solutions to the issue of water scarcity.
The multi-million pound Scottish whisky industry depends on sustainable, quality water supplies as pure mineral water is one of the three key ingredients used in the malting, mashing and cooling process.
By working together with the Chivas Brothers’ environmental and sustainability team, Ms Fennell hopes to find new ways to preserve the precious resource and make sure there’s enough water to distil the water of life far into the future.
Ms Fennell said: “I’m really looking forward to starting this PhD project.
“I’ve always considered myself as being environmentally conscious, and believe it is vital for both researchers and those in the industry to work hand in hand to ensure we make good progress in safeguarding important resources, such as water, for the future.
“By working in the field at the Glenlivet distillery, I will be able to really understand how the water catchment works, and hopefully identify the steps distilleries may need to take to make sure they have enough cold water to continue production long into the future.
“In addition, through the support of the University of Aberdeen and the James Hutton Institute I will have access to the latest modelling and field equipment to help identify if and where these nature-based solutions would be most efficient, thereby hopefully benefitting the industry in the long-term.”
The PhD student and the Chivas Brothers researchers will look into water retaining measures such as creating new ponds or wetlands, or planting trees to manage water flow around distilleries.
With new solutions in place, distilleries could be safeguarded against prolonged warm or dry periods that could be brought to Scotland in the future by climate change.
Ms Fennell was one of 40 applicants who went for the role, and was chosen after impressing Chivas Brothers with her extensive knowledge of environmental sustainability.
Gordon Buist, production director at Chivas Brothers said: “Jessica’s appointment marks an important step forward in pioneering this important research.
“During the project, Jessica will work alongside our experienced environmental and sustainability team to identify and test the effectiveness of novel solutions to manage water flow.
“This will include identifying the best locations to use these techniques, as these will be dependent on the type of soil, ground cover and land gradient.
“Our ambition is that this research will provide a solid foundation for future development in the future, and will take us – and the wider industry – one step closer to understanding and securing sustainable water resources in the long-term.”