Two Iconic Scotch Distilleries Mothballed in ’83 Are Coming Back to Life

 In Blog

The whisky boom is not exclusive to distilleries in the U.S. Diageo has announced that after being mothballed for 34 years, they will restart not one but two iconic distilleries in Scotland. The distilleries include the Port Ellen Distillery which started distillation in 1833 on the famous whisky island of Islay and Brora Distillery built in 1819 on the remote eastern coast of Sutherland. Diageo says these are two of the most revered “lost” distilleries in the global spirits industry.

A Powerful Statement of Confidence in the Future of Scotch

The distilleries, which have been mothballed since 1983 will be brought back into production with a £35 Million ($43 Million U.S.) investment by Diageo. In the more than three decades since Brora Distillery and Port Ellen Distillery were closed, the whiskies they produced have become some of the most highly prized and sought after liquids in Scotch whisky, renowned for exceptional quality and character; elevating the ghost distilleries to cult status amongst whisky enthusiasts and collectors.

For many years whisky fans around the world have called on Diageo to reopen these dead distilleries. The decision is partly a response to those demands from existing enthusiasts but it also reflects the strong growth in the single malt Scotch market and the opportunity to create new generations of whisky consumers.

Both distilleries will be reinstated to distill 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 distilleries will also have dedicated Brand Homes to welcome guests and they are expected to become iconic attractions in the Scottish tourism landscape, attracting whisky pilgrims from around the globe.

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Dr. Nick Morgan, Diageo’s Head of Whisky Outreach, who played an instrumental role in building the reputation of Port Ellen and Brora whiskies through the Diageo Special Releases program, which has been running since 2001, announced the plans on behalf of the company.

Morgan 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 program 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.”

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.

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