Sustainable Spirits: Discarded Banana Peel
The landscape of the drinks industry may have changed significantly this year, but the trend towards sustainability has remained steadfast. Concerns around the ethical and environmental implications of what we eat and drink are still growing, leading to a huge rise in the popularity of 'greener' products across every drinks category.
As interest in sustainable products grows, some brands are emerging as frontrunners of this trailblazing category - and no one is doing it quite like Discarded. Their revolutionary approach sees them take ingredients typically seen as waste products, and repurpose them in unique drinks.
When we last caught up with Joe Petch from Discarded, it was to learn more about Discarded's first foray into the world of repurposed spirits with Discarded Cascara - an industry-first vermouth flavoured with cascara, the fruit of the coffee bean. As a by-product of coffee production, billions of tonnes of cascara is thrown away year-on-year. Discarded were the first to recognise that its complex, rich and fruity flavour would lend itself perfectly to sweet vermouth.
Next up in Discarded's quest to push the boundaries of sustainability is their brand-new Banana Peel Rum. Here, it's not just the flavouring of the spirit that fits the 'discarded' brief; rather, the rum itself is a by-product of whisky production, having been used in flavouring empty casks intended for maturation. Add to this the unusual - yet effective - flavour of banana peel, and you have one seriously delicious, Caribbean-inspired rum, crafted in an entirely sustainable way.
We caught up with Joe to find out more about the latest addition to the Discarded portfolio, and hear more of this thoughts about the 'magic of reuse'...
A vermouth created with Cascara, now a rum made with banana peels... why would you say it's so important to use ingredients that some might think of as waste?
Traditionally, you'd expect sustainability to align with food and fashion industries - but there's no reason why it shouldn't extend to spirits. Whether it's using an egg cup instead of a spirit measurer to create a cocktail, or turning spare orange peel into candied orange for a snack, it's important to set the agenda for reuse.
Do you think spirits naturally lend themselves to this waste-free approach?
The very nature of the spirits industry creates plenty of opportunities for reuse! For example, we have plenty of cask ends, and other materials which are no longer used, that we have repurposed as signage for our popups. Plus, when it comes to creating cocktails in bars, the loop can be closed by giving wasted husks, skins and pulps new life by turning them into a stock or syrup.
So, tell us about this new rum.
While developing this rum, we wanted to maintain the magic of reuse that we discovered in making the Cascara Vermouth, whilst credibly expanding into a new category. The best way to describe the flavour is liquid banana bread - distinctive, yet comforting. It's perfect in a Rum Old Fashioned or a Daiquiri!
How exactly does banana peel come into play in the making of this rum?
The peel is recovered, dried out and fermented, before being steeped in alcohol for two weeks to extract maximum flavour. Afterwards, the rum and banana peel extracts are combined for another two days, to complete the blending process. We use whiskey casks for final maturation.
And - most importantly - how do you drink it?
Discarded Banana Peel is delicious served neat over ice, mixed with ginger ale, or used in fruity rum-based cocktails like a Daiquiri or Pina Colada!
Want some cocktail-mixing inspiration? check out how to make a Banana Peel Rum Daiquiri here.