‘The desire to reduce, reuse and recycle has never been higher’: Drinks brand launches vodka made from used grape skins

By Oliver Morrison

- Last updated on GMT

Image supplied by Discarded Spirits
Image supplied by Discarded Spirits

Related tags Alcohol Upcycling

The UK’s Discarded Spirits has just unveiled a grape-based vodka, made using waste-products recovered from the wine making process, in an attempt to tap into consumer desire for zero waste ingredients.

The launch of the Grape Skin Vodka coincides with the re-release of its full sustainable spirits range – which includes Discarded Cascara Vermouth and Discarded Banana Peel Rum. All are in 100% recyclable packaging, from glass to cork to label.

The company said it makes the base of the Grape Skin Vodka by distilling all the parts of the wine-making process that are normally discarded such as the skins, stems and the seeds. These are otherwise known as the pomace. It chose a Chardonnay grape from Spain for its “exceptional clarity and its subtle yet complex flavour profile,” ​it said.

According to the company, the drink has tasting notes of Williams pear, guava and starfruit with a bold pink peppercorn finish, and boasts aromas of green apple, lychee and almond croissant.

The company, meanwhile, says it is challenging “perceptions on waste and encourage consumers to creatively reuse ingredients otherwise destined to be thrown away”.

Global Discarded Ambassador, Sam Trevethyen, said: “With the rise of the no and low category, there has been an increased demand for high-quality dealcoholised wine. And one of the waste products created by dealcoholising wine is ‘wine alcohol’, which actually retains a lot of the flavour of the original grape. Typically sold on, or in most cases, destroyed, we instead wanted to celebrate the exquisite essence of this Chardonnay ‘wine alcohol’ by blending it into our Discarded Grape Skin Vodka – creating something totally new, innovative, sustainable, and utterly delicious.”

Asked do people really want to drink something that’s ‘discarded’?, Trevethyen replied: “One of the things we love to talk about at Discarded is turning trash into treasure, which is an interesting concept, ultimately rooted in our mission statement to reverse needless waste within our industry.”

“The incredible thing when embarking upon the zero-waste journey and using ingredients that would otherwise be discarded, is that it offers you access to a whole range of flavours... unusual yet familiar. These are flavours that we would otherwise not get to experience. For example, the way the tropical, butterscotch notes come through in our Discarded Banana Peel Rum feels completely new and exciting.

“Banana peels also really highlight our core ethos of being inspired by the discarded – 35% of the banana is the peel and it is almost always thrown away. By showing someone how you can use it in a premium, tasty and innovative spirit is something we find always delights and gets people wanting to know more.”

The Grape Skin Vodka (70cl) retails at £28 and Banana Peel Rum (70cl) at £30, nearly twice the cost of standard vodkas and rums. Are consumers prepared to pay a premium for these types of products? “In a word – yes!,”​ Trevethyen told us. “You might have heard it said that we have had 10 years of change in the space of the last 16 months, and this is especially true of the sustainability sector. People have been forced to really live with the amount of waste they are producing during lockdown, and the desire to reduce, reuse and recycle has never been higher. Consumers are increasingly demanding that the venues they visit and the products they use are taking steps in line with their own personal values.”

He added the reaction to the brand’s recyclable packaging (made from mostly recycled materials) has been ‘amazing’. “Not only does sustainability sell, but the consumers want to hear about the positive steps that both venues and brands are taking.”

The brand explained its caps are made from 100% recycled tin, labels made from fasson cane fibre (made from sugarcane waste), a unique cork that repurposes excess ground cork granules (only 30% of harvested cork makes the grade for the drinks industry) and a bottle that’s made from at least 65% recycled glass content.

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