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Andrew Rurik headshot

Whisky Brand Mobilizes Bartenders to Build Buzz Over Bees

By Andrew Rurik

The Gardening Giveback Project, a collaboration between Aberfeldy and the Bee Informed Partnership (BIP), combines a growing movement of bartenders and mixologists pushing for sustainability in the ingredients and spirits they use and the rising popularity of community gardening in an effort to bring awareness to the precipitous decline of bee populations worldwide.

Launched to commemorate National Honey Month, the core of the project encourages and empowers beekeepers and bartenders to plant and maintain new urban gardens full of flowers, vegetables, and herbs that also act as bee sanctuaries. Local bartenders get to add fresh, locally-sourced, community-grown ingredients like mint and basil to their cocktails. Simultaneously, local beekeepers get a maintained sanctuary to continue research on honeybee health.

The buzz around bees has been alarming since the first reports of colony collapse disorder (CCD) entered the broader conversation. Approximately 1 in 3 managed honeybee colonies have been lost each year over the past decade, due in part to increased insecticide use, continued habitat loss, and a growing Varroa mite infestation.

This decline is troubling as pollinators are responsible for 1 out of every 3 bites of food we take. Many staple fruit and vegetable harvests (apples, avocados, onions, coffee, tomatoes, grapes and green beans, to name a few) are dependent on a combination of wild pollinators and domesticated honeybee colonies to flourish. The impact of further population loss could be both economically devastating and precipitate a humanitarian crisis, as more than $24 billion of the U.S. economy and 35 percent of global food production relies on pollinators such as bees.

"As the single most important pollinator to agriculture, honeybees are a vital component in ensuring we have access to high quality, nutritious fruits, vegetables, and nuts," said Geoff Williams, president of the BIP. "We definitely appreciate Aberfeldy supporting our mission and are really excited to help bring the Gardening Giveback Project to life."

This is not Aberfeldy’s first attempt to raise awareness for the ongoing honeybee crisis. "We created the Barrels and Bees program to help support local beekeepers and protect these tiny creatures who do so much for our environment, especially given recent data showing some of the highest mortality rates on record,” said Aleco Azqueta, a brand director at Bacardi (Aberfeldy one of many brands within Bacardi’s portfolio).  “We're proud to be able to introduce the Gardening Giveback Project this year, as it provides Aberfeldy with another opportunity to drive awareness for this cause we are so passionate about."

In addition to the Barrels and Bees program and the Garden Giveback Project, Aberfeldy says it has also donated $10,000 to BIP. The funds will allow BIP to continue its work supporting local beekeepers in research and education efforts.

"So much of Aberfeldy story is rooted in its honeyed richness, making honey itself a perfect ingredient for many of our cocktails," Azqueta continued. Indeed, Aberfeldy’s Scotch whiskies are known around the world for rich honey notes, due to their longer fermentation process.

Bacardi’s previous efforts on the sustainability front include raising awareness about the risks of plastic pollution and efforts including the phasing out of plastic straws.

Look for the official Garden Giveback Project cocktail, the Aberfeldy “Herbed Honey Smash,” from an appropriate social distance at bars in Austin, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Miami, Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco. If you are not in one of the participating cities, you can still contribute by ordering a box set of Herbed Honey Smash ingredients from ReserveBar.com.

Image credit: PxHere

Andrew Rurik headshot

Andrew Rurik is a filmmaker, focusing on brand strategy for brands and businesses working on conservation issues, as well as sustainability technology and innovation. He's often found in the mountains or at the beach with dog, Kona. He likes his music too loud and subscribes to too many podcasts. Andrew is also a fan of great stories, great movies, and great whiskey. Learn more about him through is agency, Third Shift Creative, and you can subscribe to his podcast, too.


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