Whisky Focus - Diageo To Re-Open Port Ellen & Brora Distilleries

Diageo To Re-Open Port Ellen & Brora Distilleries


9th October 2017
Diageo announce that they intend to bring Port Ellen and Brora distilleries back from the dead.

Port Ellen Distillery

Whisky enthusiasts will be pleased to hear that Diageo announced today that they intend to bring two of their distilleries back from the dead, Port Ellen Distillery on Islay and their Brora Distillery in the Northern Highlands.

The two distilleries, which both produced a medium peated style whisky, closed back in 1983 during a slump in demand for Scotch whisky but in recent years whisky from the two closed distilleries has become highly sought after by whisky enthusiasts and collectors which has obviously prompted this very welcome move by Diageo.

When the two distilleries closed in 1983 no-one could have predicted how well Port Ellen and Brora whiskies would age and no-one could have forecast the current boom in demand for Scotch single malt whisky, particularly whiskies with Port Ellen's and Brora's peaty character.

Diageo intend to bring the two distilleries back to life through a £35 Million investment, the new Brora and Port Ellen distilleries will be among Diageoís smallest distilleries, capable of producing 800,000 litres of alcohol per year.

Port Ellen Distillery on the famous whisky island of Islay, and Brora on the remote eastern coast of Sutherland, will both be reinstated to distil in carefully controlled quantities, with a meticulous attention to detail, replicating where possible the distillation regimes and spirit character of the original distilleries. Cask filling and traditional warehousing will also be included on the sites of both distilleries. The ultimate aim will be to replicate as closely as possible the previous taste profiles of Port Ellen and Brora, with medium peated character at both sites.

The site of the original Port Ellen distillery is on the island of Islay, adjacent to Diageoís Port Ellen Malting's facility and a few miles from Lagavulin distillery. The original Port Ellen distillery was demolished so therefore the distillery building will have to be completely rebuilt.

Brora distillery

The original Brora distillery is situated in the village of that name on Scotlandís north east coast, adjacent to Diageoís Clynelish distillery, the original Brora distillery building is still standing and will be refurbished and along with its original pair of stills.

In this age of whisky tourism both of the new distilleries will welcome guests and they are expected to become iconic attractions in the Scottish tourism landscape, attracting whisky pilgrims from around the globe.

Dr Nick Morgan, Diageoís Head of Whisky Outreach, who played an instrumental role in building the reputation of Port Ellen and Brora whiskies through the Diageo Special Releases programme, commented: "This is a truly exceptional moment in Scotch whisky. Port Ellen and Brora are names which have a uniquely powerful resonance with whisky-lovers around the world and the opportunity to bring these lost distilleries back to life is as rare and special as the spirit for which the distilleries are famous.

"Only a very few people will ever be able to try the original Port Ellen and Brora single malts as they become increasingly rare, so we are thrilled that we will now be able to produce new expressions of these whiskies for new generations of people to enjoy."

Subject to planning permission and regulatory consents, detailed design, construction and commissioning work, it is expected the distilleries will be in production by 2020.

Diageo are considering launching 12 year old whiskies from both distilleries so if that is the case it will be at least 2032 before we see any new Port Ellen or Brora whiskies released, meanwhile you will find some forever rarer whisky from the original distilleries available from specialist online whisky shops such as Master of Malt and The Whisky Exchange
 

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