Reasons for hope: further reading following COP26


Whatever your thoughts about climate change, it seems to have been a feature of the public discourse over the last few weeks during the COP26 in Glasgow, in a way that it wasn’t during the previous rounds of comparable talks in 2015’s Paris COP21. 

Here is a selection of the things we have listened to and read lately which have resonated with us, as we try to visualise a positive future. It’s a future we are prepared to work for, taking full responsibility for the impacts of our business, particularly at the moment thinking about the agriculture on which whisky relies. 

In our panel discussion “Whisky in a Changing Climate” we heard passing mention of landraces as an alternative to commercially bred varieties of cereals, of which Bere barley is one. Landraces are packed full of genetic diversity and have adapted to different locales over hundred of years. Bere barley, for instance, has survived without chemical or scientific intervention whatever the climate has thrown at it for at least a thousand years. Our Bere barley associate at UHI Orkney, Dr Peter Martin, tells us that in Scotland’s James Hutton Institute’s Bere collection there are about 40 naturally occurring different strains collected over the last 50 years. The genetic markers within this collection correspond to distinct island groups of Shetland / Orkney / Western Isles, suggesting after Bere was introduced it became isolated in these areas and evolved specific adaptations.  The work of The Oxford Artisan Distillers [“spirit of toad”] with Rye and heritage varieties originally taken from medieval thatching is similarly fascinating. 

Reasons for hope and interviews with three inspiring writers – Richard Powers, booker-nominated author of The Overstory and Bewilderment, “bird girl” Mya-Rose Craig, and Simon Mundy the journalist behind “Race for Tomorrow: Survival, Innovation and Profit on the Frontlines of the Climate Crisis”, here:

An oldie now, but a goodie, it’s Dan Barber’s seminal

If you have come across anything yourself that you think is worth sharing with our community, please get in touch with

We launched our full sustainability plans in 2020 – Agriculture and Biodiversity is one of four areas we are focusing on. Our energy, our packaging and waste, and the wider community are the others. See Sustainability for more detail.

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