Nearly a dozen Speyside distilleries have received a world-first for the industry by being recognised for preserving water.
Production at sites in the region had to be halted during the hot summer of 2018 due to a drought as levels plummeted in the River Spey.
Now, 11 Diageo-owned sites have been recognised by the Scotland-based Alliance for Water Stewardship with its international water stewardship standard for their work to sustain supplies.
What have the distilleries done to preserve water?
The Diageo-owned Speyside distilleries formed a Spey Catchment Group to spearhead projects to preserve water supplies.
Sites including Cardhu, Mortlach and Cragganmore have set targets to improve water efficiency by 30% by 2030.
Community projects have been run in recent years, including at Abernethy Nature Reserve in the Cairngorm National Park.
Officials from Diageo worked with the RSPB to restore peatland in the area where water retention was identified as an issue.
The entire River Spey is recognised as a special area of conservation due to its importance in preserving Atlantic salmon as well as other species.
Ewan Andrew, Diageo’s chief sustainability officer, said: “We know how important it is that we protect the iconic River Spey that makes our whisky special.
“The certification of our Speyside distilleries recognises the efforts we have led in the catchment, to ensure high quality and sustainable water stewardship, so that our natural landscape is preserved for everyone.”
Other distilleries included in the recognition are Auchroisk, Benrinnes, Dailuaine, Dalwhinnie, Dufftown, Glendullan, Glen Spey and Knockando.
What else is being done on Speyside?
Environment agency NatureScot has warned of an increasing risk of extreme droughts in Scotland over the next 20 years.
Speyside has been identified as one of the areas most at risk alongside parts of Aberdeenshire as well as Caithness, Orkney and Shetland.
Roger Knight, director of the Spey Fishery Board, said: “Collective action, such as that we have seen from Diageo working with its partners in the Spey Catchment Initiative, is going to become even more vital in the years ahead.
“Only by working together do we stand a chance of making the River Spey more resilient to the ravages of climate change and averting the climate emergency which confronts us all.”
Adrian Sym, chief executive of Alliance for Water Stewardship, said: “Water is the primary medium through which we will feel the effects of climate change.
“Diageo’s leadership will not only help safeguard one of Scotland’s most important exports, but it also serves as a model to other companies on the power of collective action as water availability becomes less predictable in many places.”