Ulrich’s strategic focus on ‘first’ spirits is based on sustainability of his firm

Organic chemist Dr Ulrich Dyer is committed to growing his small batch distillery enterprise sustainability in Moy, Co Tyrone.

Tuesday, 30th November 2021, 10:00 am
Dr Ulrich Dyer, founder of Woodlab Distillery in Moy is committed to sustainability

Organic chemist Dr Ulrich Dyer is committed to growing his small batch distillery enterprise sustainability in Moy, Co Tyrone.

And he’s won impressive recognition in Britain for his strategic focus on preserving the wellbeing of the local environment.

Ulrich, founder of Woodlab Distillery, a small business he launched in a specially converted garage adjacent to his home in Pomeroy, in 2017, is focused on locally sourced ingredients such as apples from Armagh orchards and an advanced scientific distillation process that preserves the local environment. The success of his unique Symphonia range of gins required a switch to a new distillery in Moy last year.

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The small batch distillery, which also produces an award-winning Caribbean rum blended with local Jonagold apples, was recently highly commended for measures to preserve the local environment in the influential 2021 Footprint Drinks Sustainability Awards in Britain.

“The annual awards are regarded as the barometer for sustainability and responsible business practice for the drinks industry and represents an annual celebration of businesses and individuals making a difference to sustainability in the industry and its supply chain,” Ulrich says. “It’s quite an achievement for a small rural distillery like Woodlab to be recognised among many bigger producers of all types of beverages. It’s a marvellous endorsement of our sharp focus on operating to the highest sustainability standards in everything we do.”

Other producers of beverages listed in the awards for sustainability included many of the world’s biggest names such as Budweiser, Brewdog, Molson Coors, Coca Cola, Pernod Ricard, Fever Tree, and Warner’s Gin.

The commendation follows recognition by the judges of Ulrich’s focus on ”creating successful spirits while remaining consistently mindful about how to reduce the company’s impact on energy and the earth’s natural resources”. It meant “harnessing science with nature to create the best tasting spirits possible, capturing the wonderful flavours and fragrances of botanicals in the most eco-efficient way”.

The citation from the judges continues: “The aim of Woodlab is to make spirits that reflect the glory of the Northern Irish countryside. Symphonia’s ethos also meant giving something back to the country. The company features a scientific approach to developing flavours. Ingredients were also sourced as ethically and locally wherever possible – this helps the two environment by reducing carbon emissions due to transport and supports the local economy.”

The distillery, in addition, was “different in its use recycled glass in the stills, which are not only more environmentally friendly than copper, but they have also been scientifically proven to give a cleaner taste”.

The original spirits have been influenced by Ulrich’s extensive career studying the properties of molecules in exacting industries such as pharmaceuticals, searching for the essence of life which underpins Woodlab’s pioneering approach to sustainability. Ingredients are sourced ethically and locally. For ingredients not available on a sustainable scale, Ulrich searches the world for the same taste profile as the local ingredient using specialist scientific skills.

He states: “We are committed to producing premium gin and other spirits in the most environmentally friendly way possible, including in terms of energy conservation, and have several business and community initiatives planned to support this.”

Woodlab, Ulrich explains, is the only distillery using a unique process combining three techniques: cold distillation, hydrodistillation, and molecular analysis: “These ground-breaking innovations ensure the rich, delicate, flavours of the botanicals are extracted with the maximum efficiency and preserve their taste quality. They also hugely reduce energy consumption using only two percent of the energy required for traditional distilling. These techniques brought additional space efficiency.  The distillery has a reduced physical footprint compared to others. It is the only distillery in the world using these combined processes.”

Remaining true to the purity of science and nature has been at the heart of Woodlab’s business ethos, he explains. In practise, this meant “harnessing science with nature to create the best tasting spirits possible, capturing the wonderful flavours and fragrances of botanicals in the most eco-efficient way”.

The pioneering enterprise’s developing reputation from its focus on sustainable business practices is contributing to its success in the sale of its Symphonia spirits. Among recent contracts is a deal to supply its Irish Apple Rum to Tesco stores across NI. The unique Symphonia Caribbean rum, distilled in Moy, gained the Tesco business following a direct pitch to the supermarket’s buyer who was impressed by the taste of the spirit and its presentation.

Ulrich adds: “This is a very welcome boost especially at this time of year with Christmas approaching. Our rum makes a perfect and warming drink for round the fire at home on these cold evenings and is also an ideal gift for the season or any time of the year.”

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