Port Ellen and Brora, two ‘lost’ distilleries, are to be brought back to life, demonstrating renewed confidence in the future of Scotch whisky.
The distilleries, which have been closed since 1983, will be brought back into production through a £35m investment by Scotch whisky company, Diageo.
For many years, whisky fans around the world have called on Diageo to reopen these closed distilleries. The decision is partly a response to those demands from existing enthusiasts but also reflects the growth of the single malt Scotch market.
Port Ellen Distillery on the island of Islay, and Brora on the east coast of Sutherland, will both be reinstated to distil in carefully controlled quantities, 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.
Dr Nick Morgan, Diageo’s head of whisky outreach, said: “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.
“Scotch whisky is Scotland’s gift to the world and the rebirth of these distilleries is a great gift to malt whisky lovers everywhere.”
David Cutter, Diageo president of global supply & procurement, who is responsible for leading the capital investment programme to reinstate the distilleries, said: “This is no ordinary Scotch whisky distillery investment. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to bring these iconic distilleries back to life.
“We will take great care to be true to the spirit of the original distilleries in everything we do and to operate them with all the knowledge, skill, craft and love of Scotch that our people and our company has gathered through centuries of whisky-making.”
Scottish Secretary David Mundell said: “This is good news for one Scotland’s most important industries, and some of our most remote communities. These ambitious new developments will create jobs, boost tourism and produce premium products to be exported around the world.”
The new Brora and Port Ellen distilleries will be among Diageo’s smallest distilleries, capable of producing 800,000 litres of alcohol per year. They will replicate as closely as possible the previous taste profiles of Port Ellen and Brora, with medium peated character at both sites.
Subject to planning permission and regulatory consents, detailed design, construction and commissioning work, it is expected the distilleries will be in production by 2020.