TWO ‘lost’ Scotch whisky distilleries, Port Ellen on Islay and Brora in east Sutherland, are to be revived through a £35 million investment by drinks giant Diageo.
The whiskies produced by both distilleries, which have been silent since 1983, have become highly coveted among Scotch whisky enthusiasts; the ‘ghost distilleries’ are said to have risen to “cult status” amongst both whisky enthusiasts and collectors alike.
Port Ellen Distillery, on Islay, and Brora, on the eastern coast of Sutherland, will both be reinstated to distil in “carefully controlled quantities”, with the processes and regimes being replicated, where possible, from the original distilleries.
Both sites will be amongst Diageo’s smallest distilleries and will be capable of producing 800,000 litres of alcohol per year, according to Diageo. The distilleries, which are expected to resume production by 2020, will produce medium peated whiskies.
David Cutter, Diageo president of global supply and procurement – who is responsible for leading the investment programme to reinstate the distilleries – said the company will “take great care to be true to the spirit of the original distilleries”.
“This is no ordinary Scotch whisky distillery investment,” he said. “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to bring these iconic distilleries back to life.”
Diageo’s Dr Nick Morgan, who played a role in building the reputation of both Port Ellen and Brora whiskies through the Diageo Special Releases programme (which has run since 2001) said the rebirth of the distilleries “is a great gift to malt whisky lovers everywhere”.
“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,” he said.