Distillery reopens

A blend of new and old as Port Ellen is reborn

Aimee Morrison: pushing boundaries (pic: Diageo)

One of Scotland’s so-called ‘ghost distilleries’ has been brought back into production and ready to distil the classic smoky liquid that made its single malt one of the most highly sought after whiskies in the world.

More than 40 years after it closed, the reopening of Port Ellen Distillery, on the island of Islay, represents the final part of a £185 million investment by parent company Diageo, which has also seen the reopening of the other famous “ghost” distillery Brora and new Scotch whisky visitor experiences.

Drawing on Port Ellen’s extraordinary heritage as a 19th century pioneer, the new distillery has been designed to push the boundaries of innovation, experimentation and sustainability.

The new building features ultra-modern design with an unobstructed line of sight through the glass stillhouse to the stunning coastline of Islay, across the bay to Carraig Fhada lighthouse.

It has a dedicated on-site laboratory and a technician to analyse and catalogue the new experimental whiskies that emerge.

In line with Diageo’s commitment to be carbon neutral in its direct production business globally by 2030, Port Ellen will be carbon neutral from the start, with every part of the distillation process optimised so that water and heat are both recycled, and all energy produced by a renewable-biofuel boiler.

Investment by Diageo has modernised the distillery (pic: Diageo)

Supply chain president and sustainability officer Ewan Andrew, said: “This is a landmark moment for Diageo and for Scotch Whisky. Port Ellen is rooted in the land and the people of Islay, yet it is a name that resonates around the world as a watchword for quality single malt Scotch whisky.”

Master blender Aimée Morrison, added: “Port Ellen will be defined as a distillery that will push boundaries, with our on-site laboratory giving us the opportunity to delve into scientific research, offering us a deeper look into this Islay malt.

“We will better understand how the nuanced flavours from cask-to-cask shine in different ways; with the rolling smoke weaving its way through the heart of Port Ellen.

“Collectively we will endeavour to maintain the undeniable quality of Port Ellen, create whiskies for the future and take the amazing opportunity to learn as much as we can about the enigma of smoke.”

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