Diageo to revive ‘lost’ distilleries with £35m investment

Diageo is to revive ‘lost’ distilleries Port Ellen and Brora with a £35 million investment.

Port Ellen was established as a malt mill in 1825, and then developed as a distillery under John Ramsay from 1833 to 1892. The warehouses he built still exist and are now listed buildings. Picture and information source: Wikipedia

The funds will ensure that both distilleries, which have been closed since 1983, will be brought back into production by 2020, subject to planning permission and regulatory consents.

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 it also reflects the strong growth in the single malt Scotch market and the opportunity to create new generations of whisky consumers, according to Diageo.

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 programme, which has been running since 2001, announced the plans on behalf of the company.

He 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.”

Meanwhile, David Mundell, Secretary of State for Scotland, said this morning, “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.”

Port Ellen Distillery on the famous whisky island of Islay, and Brora on the remote eastern coast of Sutherland, will 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.

The distilleries will also have dedicated ‘brand homes’ to welcome guests.

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