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PORT ELLEN   

over 19 years old

43 %              
THE MC GlBBON's PROVENANCE
SPRING DISTILLATION

Distilled Spring 1982
Bottled Spring 2001
No Colouring
Not Chill Filtered
Douglas McGibbon & Co, Ltd, Glasgow

PORT ELLEN  

6 years old

43 %                  
THE ULTIMATE SINGLE MALT
SCOTCH WHISKY SELECTION
Distilled 11.11.77
Bottled 10.94
Cask no. 5559
425 bottles
Van Wees, Holland

PORT ELLEN   

16 years old

43 %               
THE ULTIMATE SINGLE MALT
SCOTCH WHISKY SELECTION
Distilled 16.1.79
Bottled 10.95
Cask no. 304
380 bottles
Van Wees, Holland

PORT ELLEN  

17 years old

43 %                 
THE ULTIMATE SINGLE MALT
SCOTCH WHISKY SELECTION
Distilled 6/8/80
Bottled 24/11/97
Cask bo. 89/589/28
The Ultimate Whisky Company N.L.

PORT ELLEN  

20 years old

60.90 %    

INFO           
RARE MALTS SELECTION
Natural Cask Strenght
Distilled 1978
Bottled October 1998
Limited Edition
Genummerde flessen
Low Robertson & Co, Edinburgh.

PORT ELLEN   

22 years old

60.50 %   

INFO          
RARE MALTS SELECTION
Natural Cask Strenght
Distilled 1978
Bottled October 2000
Limited Edition
Genummerde flessen
Low Robertson & Co, Edinburgh.

PORT ELLEN   

VINTAGE 1975   

43%               
SIGNATORY 2000
SIGNATORY MILLENNIUM EDITION

24 years old 43 %
Distilled on 8th April 1975
Bottled on 30th September 1999
Cask No. 1764
355 bottles
Signatory Vintage
Scotch Whisky Co, Ltd, Edinburgh

PORT ELLEN   

VINTAGE 1976   

58%              
Distilled 28.9.76
Bottled 13.1.2000
Cask No. 4762
258 bottles
Signatory Vintage
Scotch Whisky Co, Ltd, Edinburgh

PORT ELLEN  

VINTAGE 1975   

43%              
24 years old
Distilled 13.8.75
Bottled 13.5.99
Cask No. 1754
362 bottles
Signatory Vintage
Scotch Whisky Co, Ltd, Edinburgh

PORT ELLEN   

10 years old

43 %               
(1983 - 1993) Stenen kruik
Signatory Vintage
Scotch Whisky Co, Ltd, Edinburgh

PORT ELLEN  

22 years old

59,2 %             
SILENT STILLS
Distilled 30.11.74
Bottled 15.5.97
Cask No. 6754
260 bottles
Low Robertson & Co, Ltd
Signatory Vintage
Scotch Whisky Co, Ltd, Edinburgh

PORT ELLEN  

10 years old

43 %    

INFO            
SCOTTISH WILDLIFE
Otter (Lutra lutra)
Signatory Vintage
Scotch Whisky Co, Ltd, Edinburgh

PORT ELLEN   

18 years old

56,3 %              
SILENT STILLS
Distilled 16.1.79
Bottled 29.10.97
Cask No. 274
190 bottles
Low Robertson & Co, Ltd
Signatory Vintage
Scotch Whisky Co, Ltd, Edinburgh

PORT ELLEN   

11 years old

59,5%    

INFO         
Date distilled Mar 83
Date bottled Sept 94
Society Cask No. code 43.9
The Scotch Malt Whisky Society,
The Vaults, Leith, Edinburgh

PORT ELLEN   

10 years old

64 %            
CADENHEAD'S
AUTHENTIC COLLECTION

LAST  BOTTLE  &  EMPTY
150th Anniversary bottling
Distilled April 1981
Bottled March 1992
No Chill Filtration
No additives
No Colouring
Wm. Cadenhead, 32 Unionstreet, Campbeltown

PORT ELLEN   

19 years old

40%                   
CONNOISSEURS CHOICE
Distilled 1982
Bottled 2001
Proprietors: Low Robertson & Co, Ltd
Gordon & Macphail, Elgin

PORT ELLEN  

1977   22 years old

52,5 %               
SCOTT's SELECTION
Natural Cask Strenght
Distilled in the year 1977
Bottled in the year 1999
Undiluted
Robert Scott & Co, Rutherglen

PORT ELLEN   

22 years old

56,2%    

INFO           
ANNUAL SPECIAL BOTTLING
Natural Cask Strenght
Distilled 1979
Bottled 2001
Genummerde flessen
Limited Edition of only 6000 bottles
Port Ellen Maltings, Port Ellen, Isle of Islay

PORT ELLEN   

24 years old

58,8%                
SIGNATORY VINTAGE
STRAIGHT FROM THE CASK
BURGUNDY FINISH

Finished in a Burgundy Cask
Cask No. 03/332/1
Distilled on: 9th Aug 1979
Bottled by Hand on: 20th Jan 2004
425 Bottles
500 ml Bottles
Signatory Vintage
Scotch Whisky Co, Ltd, Edinburgh

PORT ELLEN   

16 years old

40 %                 
CONNOISSEURS CHOICE
Distilled 1974
Bottled 1991
Proprietors: Low Robertson & Co, Ltd
Gordon & Macpahil, Elgin

PORT ELLEN  

15 years old

40 %               
CONNOISSEURS CHOICE
Distilled 1977
Bottled 1992
Proprietors: Low Robertson & Co, Ltd
Gordon & Macpahail, Elgin

PORT ELLEN  

19 years old

40 %                
CONNOISSEURS CHOICE
Distilled 1980
Bottled 1999
Proprietors: Low Robertson & Co, Ltd
Gordon & Macpahil, Elgin

PORT ELLEN   

18 years old

40 %                
CONNOISSEURS CHOICE
Distilled 1981
Bottled 1999
Proprietors: Low Robertson & Co, Ltd
Gordon & Macphail, Elgin

PORT ELLEN   

1979  

19 years

61.1%           
CASK Strenght
Natural High Strenght
Distilled 11/12/79
Bottled July 1998
Cask No. 7238 - 7239
Proprietors: Low Robertson & Co, Ltd
Gordon & Macphail, Elgin

PORT ELLEN   

25 years old

50%            
THE OLD MALT CASK 50o
Single Cask Bottling
Distilled March 1976
Bottled April 2001
522 bottles
No Chill Filtration
No Colouring
Douglas Laing & Co, Ltd, Glasgow

PORT ELLEN  

23 years old

50%               
THE OLD MALT CASK 50o
A Single Cask Bottling
Distilled January 1978
Bottled September 2001
Finished in Sherry Wood, 6 months minimum
764 bottles
No Chill Filtration
No Colouring
Douglas Laing & Co, Ltd, Glasgow

PORT ELLEN   

21 years old

50%              
THE OLD MALT CASK 50o
Single Cask Bottling
Distilled January 1979
Bottled July 2000
336 Bottles
No Chill Filtration
No Colouring
Douglas Laing & Co, Ltd, Glasgow

PORT ELLEN  

19 years old

50%             
THE OLD MALT CASK
Single Cask Bottling
Distilled December 1981
Bottled December 2000
Matured in Sherry Cask
474 Bottles
No Chill Filtration
No Colouring
Douglas Laing & Co, Ltd, Glasgow

PORT ELLEN   

19 years old

50%               
THE OLD MALT CASK
Single Cask Bottling
Distilled February 1982
Bottled Septembet 2001
Matured in Sherry Cask
720 Bottles
No Chill Filtration
No Colouring
Douglas Laing & Co, Ltd, Glasgow

PORT ELLEN  

24 years old

59,35 %   

INFO         
SUPER PREMIUM
CASK STRENGHT

Distilled in 1978
Bottled in 2002
Natural Cask
Strenght Single Malt Whisky
2 nd RELEASE
Only 12000 bottles
Limited Edition
Numbered bottles
Matured and Bottled by the Distillers
Port Ellen Maltings, Port Ellen,

Isle of Islay

PORT ELLEN  

24 years old

57,3%     

INFO         
SUPER PREMIUM
CASK STRENGHT

Distilled in 1979
Bottled in 2003
Natural Cask
Strenght Single Malt Whisky
3rd RELEASE
Only 9000 bottles
Numbered bottles

PORT ELLEN      

VINTAGE 1979                
22 years old

43 %
Distilled on 9th August 1979

Bottled on 18th February 2002
Cask No. 5143
348 Bottles
Genummerde flessen
Natural Colour
Signatory Vintage
Scotch Whisky Co, Ltd, Edinburgh.

PORT ELLEN   

VINTAGE 1979              
22 years old

43 %
Distilled on 9th August 1979
Bottled on 18th February 2002
Cask No. 5144
339 Bottles
Genummerde flessen
Natural Colour
Signatory Vintage
Scotch Whisky Co, Ltd, Edinburgh

PORT ELLEN   

VINTAGE 1979             
22 years old

43 %
Distilled 9th August 1979
Bottled on 18th February 2002
Cask No. 5145
345 Bottles
Genummerde flessen
Natural Colour
Signatory Vintage
Scotch Whisky Co, Ltd, Edinburgh

PORT ELLEN   

VINTAGE 1979                
22 years old

43 %
Distilled on 9th August 1979
Bottled on 18th February 2002
Cask No. 5146
312 Bottles
Genummerde flessen
Natural Colour
Signatory Vintage
Scotch Whisky Co, Ltd, Edinburgh

PORT ELLEN   

VINTAGE 1979                 
22 years old

43 %
Distilled on 9th August 1979
Bottled on 28th February 2002
Cask No. 5147
361 Bottles
Genummerde flessen
Natural Colour
Signatory Vintage
Scotch Whisky Co, Ltd, Edinburgh

PORT ELLEN   

VINTAGE 1978              
23 years old

59 %
Cask Strenght
Distilled 5.9.78
Bottled 18.2.2002
Matured in a refill sherry butt
Butt No. 5268
564 Bottles
Genummerde flessen
Natural Colour
Signatory Vintage
Scotch Whisky Co, Ltd, Edinburgh

PORT ELLEN   

VINTAGE 1978               
23 years old

56,5 %
Cask Strenght
Distilled 7.9.78
Bottled 5.3.2002
Matured in an oak cask
Cask No. 5338
204 Bottles
Genummerde flessen
Natural Colour
Signatory Vintage Scotch Whisky Co,

Ltd, Edinburgh

PORT ELLEN  

VINTAGE 1978            
THE DECANTER COLLECTION
PORT WOOD FINISH EDITION 1

24 years old 58 %
Distilled 05.09.78
Bottled 16.09.02
Cask no. 02/159/1
804 numbered Decanters
Signatory Vintage
Scotch Whisky Co, Ltd, Edinburgh

PORT ELLEN   

VINTAGE 1978          
THE DECANTER COLLECTION
PORT WOOD FINISH EDITION 2

24 years old

59,3 %
Distilled 05.09.78
Bottled 16.09.02
Cask no. 02/159/2
792 numbered Decanters
Signatory Vintage
Scotch Whisky Co, Ltd, Edinburgh

PORT ELLEN   

VINTAGE 1978                
23 years old

57,6 %
Single Islay Malt Scotch Whisky
Cask Strenght
Distilled 7.9.78
Bottled 21.5.2002
Cask No. 5348
262 numbered Bottles
Natural Colour
Signatory Vintage
Scotch Whisky Co, Ltd, Edinburgh

PORT ELLEN   

VINTAGE 1978              
23 years old

56,5 %
Single Islay Malt Scotch Whisky
Cask Strenght
Distilled 7.9.78
Cask No. 5338
Bottled 5.3.2002
204 numbered Bottles
Natural Colour
Signatory Vintage
Scotch Whisky Co, Ltd, Edinburgh

PORT ELLEN   

VINTAGE 1978               
23 years old

56,6 %
Single Islay Malt Scotch Whisky
Cask Strenght
Distilled 7.9.78
Bottled 27.7.2002
Cask No. 5349
232 Numbered Bottles
Natural Colour
Signatory Vintage
Scotch Whisky Co, Ltd, Edinburgh

PORT ELLEN   

VINTAGE 1978              
23 years old

55,8 %
Single Islay Malt Scotch Whisky
Cask Strenght
Distilled 7.9.78
Bottled 26.7.2002
Cask No. 5350
247 numbered Bottles
Natural Colour
Signatory Vintage
Scotch Whisky Co, Ltd, Edinburgh

PORT ELLEN   

VINTAGE 1979              
24 years old

56,8 %
Single Islay Malt Scotch Whisky
Cask Strenght
Cask No. 6773
514 numbered Bottles
Natural Colour
Signatory Vintage
Scotch Whisky Co, Ltd, Edinburgh

PORT ELLEN   

VINTAGE 1977         
27 years old

56,7 %
CASK STRENGTH COLLECTION
Single Islay Malt Scotch Whisky
Matured in a Hogshead
Cask No. 2702
159 numbered Bottles
Natural Colour
Signatory Vintage
Scotch Whisky Co, Ltd, Edinburgh

PORT ELLEN   

25 years old

56.2 %   

INFO        
SUPER PREMIUM
CASK STRENGHT

Distilled in 1978
Bottled in 2004
Natural Cask
Strenght Single Malt Whisky
4 th RELEASE
Only 5100 Bottles
Limited Edition
Numbered bottles
Matured and Bottled by the Distillers
Port Ellen Maltings, Port Ellen, Isle of Islay

PORT ELLEN  

30 years old

58,5 %             
SIGNATORY VINTAGE
CASK STRENGHT COLLECTION

Islay Single Malt  Scotch Whisky
Distilled on 30/11/1974
Bottled on: 31/08/2005
Matured in a Hogshead
Cask No; 6756
266  Numbered Bottles
Natural Colour
Signatory Vintage
Scotch Whisky Co, Ltd, Edinburgh

PORT ELLEN

30 years old

56,9 %             
SIGNATORY VINTAGE
CASK STRENGHT COLLECTION

Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Distilled on 14/01-1975
Bottled on 31/08/2005
Matured in a Hogshead
Cask No; 159
206 Numbered Bottles
Natural Colour
Signatory Vintage
Scotch Whisky Co, Ltd, Edinburgh

PORT ELLEN   

25 years old

57,4 %             
SUPER PREMIUM
SPECIAL RELEASES 2005

Islay Single Malt  Scotch Whisky
Annual Release
5th Release
Natural Cask Strenght Single Malt Whisky
Distilled in 1979
Bottled in 2005
From American Oak Refill Casks
Limited Edition
5280 Numbered Bottles
Port Ellen Maltings, Port Ellen, Isle of Islay

PORT ELLEN   

27 years old

54,2 %

INFO        
CLASSIC MALTS SELECTION
SPECIAL RELEASES 2006

Natural Cask Strenght Single Malt Whisky
6 TH RELEASE
Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Distilled in 1978
Bottled in 2006
From American Oak and
European Oak refill Casks
Only 4560 numbered
bottles worldwide
249 bottles available
for the Netherlands
Port Ellen Maltings, Port Ellen,
Isle of Islay

PORT  ELLEN     

Aged 25 Years  

57,5 %                        
OLD  &  RARE
Single Cask Single Malt Scotch Whisky
"A  PLATINUM  SELECTION "
Distilled : April 1982
D L cask ref. 3478
A June Bottling 2007
Bottled at Natural Cask Strenght
Traditionally Un - Chill Filtered
Offered with Pride
Limited Edition
Numbered Bottles
512 Bottles
Selected and Bottled for Potstill -
Austria's finest Whisky Store
Douglas Laing & Co, Ltd, Glasgow
                                                    
PORT  ELLEN   

29 years old  

55,3 %    

INFO                              
CLASSIC  MALTS  SELECTION
SPECIAL  RELEASES  2 0 0 8
EIGHT  8  RELEASE

Natural Cask Strenght Single Malt Whisky
Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Distilled in 1978
Bottled in 2008
Limited Edition
ANNUAL  RELEASE
Numbered bottles
One of only 6618 Bottles
Port Ellen maltings, Port Ellen, Isle of Islay

PORT  ELLEN  

1 9 9 2  

Over  25 years old

40 %   

INFO
CONNOISSEURS  CHOICE
Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Distillation Date:

September 1982
Cask Rype: Refill Sherry Butts
Bottling Date: November 2007
Proprietors: Low Robertson & Co, Ltd
Specially selected, produced and bottled by
Gordon & Macphail, Elgin


PORT  ELLEN            

SIGNATORY  VINTAGE   

1 9 8 3              
Aged  26  years

54.7 %
CASK  STRENGHT  COLLECTION

ISLAY  SINGLE  MALT  SCOTCH  WHISKY
Distilled on: 02/03/1983
Matured in a Wine Treatened Butt
Cask No: 232
Bottled on: 10/11/2009
587 Numbered Bottles
Natural Colour
Casks individually selected and bottled by
Signatory Vintage Scotch Whisky Co, Ltd, Pitlochry

PORT  ELLEN

Aged  27 years    

49.4 %
RAREST  OF  THE  RARE
SINGLE  MALT  SCOTCH  WHISKY
A Historic Collection of Cask Strenght
Single Cask Whiskies from Distilleries
which no longer exist
Unique Whiskies of Distinction
Fons et Origo
D T C
Est. 1938
Distilled at Port Ellen Distillery
Distilled: 03.1983
Cask no: 672
Bottled: 05.2010
278 Numbered Bottles
No Chill Filtering or Colouring of any kind
Duncan Taylor & Co, Ltd, Huntly, Aberdeenshire

PORT  ELLEN  

27 years old  

43 %  INFO
CONNOISSEURS  CHOICE
Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Distillation Date: September 1982
Cask Type: Refill Sherry Casks
Bottling Date: September 2009
Proprietors: Low Robertson & Co, Ltd
Specially selcted, produced and bottled
By Gordon & Macphail, Elgin.


Islay
The Kildalton Distilleries
PORT ELLEN (1825 - 1983)

Port Ellen, Islay, Argyll.
Licentiehouder: Low Robertson & Co, Ltd. Onderdeel van Scottish Malt Distillers Ltd.(S.M.D.) De malt divisie van United Malt & Grain Distillers Ltd. Eigendom van Guinness.

In 1825 begon Alexander Kerr Mackay op deze plaats een mouterij die een paar jaar later werd omgebouwd tot een distilleerderij. Mackay was huurder van de distilleerderij, de huurder van de gebouwen was Major James Adair teDumfries en Glasgow, die op zijn beurt de gebouwen onderverhuurde aan John Morrison en zijn compagnonsGeorge MacLennon en Patrick Thomson. Alexander Kerrstierf in 1833.

Onder zijn opvolger John Morrison gingen de zaken minder goed en Ebenezer Ramsay, gevolmachtigde van de belastingen, stuurde zijn zoon Eben naar zijn familielidMorrison om uit te zoeken wat er mis was.
Eben Ramsay liet niets van zich horen en toen stuurdeEbenezer Ramsay zijn jongste zoon John Ramsay naarPort Ellen. John Ramsay wist Ebenezer Ramsay te overtuigen, dat de distilleerderij onder goede leiding een kans had.

Morrison werd overgeplaatst naar het kantoor in Glasgowom de verkopen te behartiggen, en John Ramsay tijdelijk bijgestaan door zijn broer Thomas behartigde de zaken tePort Ellen. John Morrison voldeed ook niet te Glasgow enThomas werd deelgenoot in de onderneming. In 1839 werd een tweede, belastingvrij lagerpakhuis in gebruik genomen.

Nadat Adair, de huurder van de gebouwen, in 1840 was gestorven, werd de verhuur geveild, hoogste bieder wasAlexander Craig te Glasgow. Maar landeigenaar Walter Frederick Campbell had recht van veto,
en besliste in het voordeel van Ramsay, en gunde hem het recht van huur.

Ramsay huurde daarna nog twee boerderijen naast Port Ellen: Cornabus en Kilnaughton. In 1842 stond op zijn inventarislijst, dat hij 33.590 liter whisky, met een waarde van E 1,479 16s in voorraad had, de totale waarde van zijn voorraad was E 4,193 19s 8d. Port Ellen exporteerde toen al rechtstreeks naar de Verenigde Staten.

Omstreeks 1848 kwam zijn zuster Margaret bij hem op deCornabus boerderij en trouwde met James Stein, die samen met zijn broer Ardenistiel had geleid. James Stein werd manager van Port Ellen en rentmeester en Ramsay was zelf meer in Glasgow waar hij zich bezighield met de import vansherry, port en madeira.

Te Port Ellen werd ook de 'Spirit Safe' verfijnd, uitgevonden door Septimes Fox en geaccepteerd door de dienst van accijnzen, na de 'Act of 1823'. Ramsay groeide uit tot de belangrijkste landbouwdeskundige op Islay, en publiceerdeover dit onderwerp regelmatig in de Glasgow Herald.

Landeigenaar Walter Frederick Campbell ging bankroet in1854 en een Engelse koopman James Morrison werd eigenaar en hij verkocht in 1855 Kildalton aan Ramsay voor € 70,765.

Ramsay was landheer geworden van zijn collega's deJohnston's van Laphroaig, de Graham's van Lagavulin en de MacDougalls van Ardbeg. Ramsay begon ook een stoomvaartdienst van Islay naar Glasgow,
liet nieuwe wegen aanleggen te Kildalton en toen met de groei van de bevolking er niet genoeg voedsel was, liet hij de meest doortastenden, op zijn kosten naar Canada emigreren. Deze mensen bezocht hij daar ook een keer om naar hun welzijn te vragen.

In Glasgow gingen de zaken ook goed, John Morrison was opgevolgd door James Richardson, die op zijn beurt werd opgevolgd door W.P. Lowrie. Lowrie begon in 1869 voor zich zelf, en werd een belangrijk man in de Schotsewhiskyindustrie, en vooral bekend door de hulp die hij James Buchanan bood toen die zijn eigen blend uitbracht en weer later, na de krach van de Pattison in 1898, toen hij zelf in moeilijkheden kwam, werd overgenomen door Buchanan.

In 1892 verleende John Ramsay een huurovereenkomst aan zijn tweede vrouw Lucy, voor grond gelegen aan de zeezijde van Port Ellen, waar zij vier huizen liet bouwen. John Ramsay stierf op 24 Januari 1892 en de dagelijkse leidingging over in de handen van Lucy Ramsay.

In September werd een speciale vergadering belegd om te onderzoeken 'payments to Mrs Ramsay for spirits at Port Ellen, sold during John Ramsay's lifetime but not delivered'. De stand eind Juni 1892 was 727,700 liter.

De taxateurs waren A.W. Robertson van Robertson & Baxter te Glasgow, whisky makelaars, en W.P. Lowrie,blender.Tezelfdertijd werd besloten dat John Ramsay'sachterneef de onderneming zou verlaten niet later dan 30 September met een betaling van E 16 13s 4d.

Lucy Ramsay nam een zekere Osborne aan als manager van de distilleerderij tot aan haar overlijden in 1905. Haar zoonIain Ramsay, nam Port Ellen over, maar omdat zijn zusterLucy, haar deel in baar geld wilde hebben, raakte Iain in moeilijkheden.

In deze periode was Malcolm Maclntyre van Train & Maclntyre Ltd als leerling distillateur bij hem werkzaam, en hij vroeg hem zijn compagnon te worden. Beiden moesten meevechten in de eerste wereldoorlog en alleen Ramsaykeerde terug, als invalide en volkomen in de war als gevolg van een ondergegane Zeppelin aanval aan het front.

De markt voor whisky was slecht na de oorlog en in Amerikawas er de drooglegging, van oudsher een heel belangrijke markt voor Port Ellen en Ramsay werd gedwongen een deel van zijn aandelen en grondbezit te verkopen.

W.P. Lowrie was in 1906 overgenomen door Buchanan en samen met John Dewar & Sons Ltd werden de aandelen vanPort Ellen door hen overgenomen in 1920. De naam werdPort Ellen Distillery Co, Ltd.

Na de fusie tussen Buchanan - Dewar in 1925 met deDistillers Company Ltd (D.C.L). werd de onderneming  geluiquideerd in 1927 als gevolg van de depressie die er toen heerste.
De aandelen werden toen overgenomen door John Dewar & Son Ltd en W.P. Lowrie & Co Ltd, tot in 1930 Port Ellenonderdeel werd van Scottish Malt Distillers Ltd, de malt divisie van de D.C.L.

Port Ellen werd in 1930 gesloten.
De voorraden waren enorm te Port Ellen, de distilleerderij bleef 37 jaar dicht, en kon al die tijd whisky leveren.
In 1967 werd Port Ellen weer opgestart.
In April 1967 was Port Ellen kompleet nieuw gebouwd en toen een heel efficient bedrijf.
In 1973 werd de nieuwe grote mouterij gebouwd bij Port Ellen die alle distilleerderijen van Scottish Malt Distillers,Lagavulin, Port Ellen en Caol Ila van mout gingen voorzien.
Port Ellen werd gesloten, tesamen met elf andere distilleerderijen in Mei 1983. Het effekt op Islay was enorm.  

Het water kwam van Leorin Loch.
De Mash tun is 5,68 ton.
De acht Wash backs hebben een inhoud van elk 30.000 liter.
De twee Wash stills zijn elk 28.000 liter, de twee Spirit stills elk 25.000 liter.
De produktie capaciteit was 750.000 liter spirit per jaar
.

Guinness nam Arthur Bell & Sons Limited in 1986 tegen hun zin over en in 1987, en eveneens tegen hun zin, The Distillers Company Ltd (D.C.L). In 1988 werden beide groepen van bedrijven samengevoegd, en de nieuwe naam werd United Distillers Ltd.

Op 12 Mei 1997 staakte de Fransman Bernard Arnault van L M V H zijn verzet tegen de fusie van Guinness en Grand Metropolitan (GrandMet) voor een afkoopsom van ƒ 800.000.000.

De nieuwe naam van de gefuseerden zou eerst G M G Brandsworden maar op 22 October werd bekend dat de naamDiageo zou worden, afgeleid van het Latijnse woord voor dag en het Griekse woord voor wereld.
Diageo wordt het grootste drankenconcern ter wereld, groter dan Seagram en Allied Domecq samen en met een omzet van 40 miljard gulden.

Op 28 Maart 1998 verkoopt Diageo het whiskymerkDewar's en het ginmerk Bombay voor E 1,15 miljard aanBacardi Martini. Het afstoten van de twee merken was een voorwaarde die door de Amerikaansemededingingsautoriteiten was gesteld aan de goedkeuring van de fusie tussen Guinness en Grand Metropolitan.

Dewar's
heeft een omzet van ruim één miljard gulden en een marktaandeel van 10 %. Het merk is marktleider in de V.S.

Diageo is de overkoepelende naam voor vier ondernemingen:United Distillers & Vintners, (U.D.V.), Pilsbury, Guinness en Burger King. Onderdeel van de verkoop houdt ook in de overname van de distilleerderijen Aberfeldy, Ault-more, Craigellachie en Royal Brackla door Bacardi Martini.

Balmenach
wordt in December 1997 verkocht aan Inver House.

October 2005
Diageo has announced that its 2005 Annual Rare Malts Selection will be the last.
The collection will consist of four cask strenght single malts from closed distilleries; Glen Mhor 28 years old, Millburn 35 years old, Glendullan 26 years old and Linkwood 30 years old.
Dr. Nicholas Morgan, global malts marketing director commented: 'As the Special Releases are now well established, it makes less sence to continue selecting and promoting a parallel series of Rare Malts with his own separate indentity'. In future, all premium and rare whiskies will be made available in the annual Special Releases series.

THE OLD MALT CASK 50o
Douglas Laing & Co, Ltd

Douglas House 18, Lynedoch Crescent, Glasgow G 3 6 E Q.
In 1949 Fred Douglas Laing established Douglas Laing & Co primarily as a blender and bottler for his Scotch Whisky blends The King of Scots and House of Peers, which are available today internationally.
Large stocks and reserves of aging Malts in particular, were laid down by Mr. Laing, many being guarded for 25 - 30 years specifically for the older blends such as the 25 and 30 Year Old KING OF SCOTS.
With more than 50 different Malts in stock, over the last 50 years from filling programme, it was obvious that the Malt Master would have certain favourites. These have variously been chalked off the times of regular quality control, as being of particular qualitative interest; both commercially, and for the pleasure of the Directors. It has been their particular perk, benefit and privelege to nose and taste some of the finest quality samples indicative of the Distillers's art.
It was judged by the two current owners/directors (sons of the founder, so nepotism is not dead!) that some of these stocks were 'too good to blend'. And so the OLD MALT CASK selection was developed in 1999 to extend those perks and benefits beyond the Director's tasting suite!
Initially it was felt that 50 different Malts commemorating the Company's 50th Anniversary would be approciate. That tally has now been exeeded but our preferred strenght of 50 % alc/vol is maintained. We believe this strenght creates a fine, round, full quality for various Malts when taken 'neat'. It also allows the regular consumer to know precisely how much or little water should be added to this artisan and craftman's distillate.
These selected Malt Whiskies have waited many years to reach their classic heights of qua-lity. Not only with your health in mind, but with a view to greater enjoyment, may we suggest that in the style of the founder, whose signature endorses your Malt, you enjoy its glass leisurely and slowly.
Douglas Laing.

Port Ellen gaf werk aan 33 mensen, die een turfachtige malt produceerden van 35 ppm.

Dat Port Ellen werd gesloten, lag aan de blenders, die een voorkeur hadden aan de whisky van Lagavulin en Caol Ila. Port Ellen rijpte langzaam. Het water kwam van Leorin Lochen liep via een pijpleiding naar de distilleerderij.

Men gebruikte voor 20 procent sherry vaten, de overige vaten waren ex-Bourbon hogsheads en barrels. De capaciteit was ongeveer 1.700.000 liter pure alcohol per jaar

1825         Founded by Alexander Kerr Mackay & Co, assisted by Walter Campbell,
                 Laird of Islay
                A.K. Mackay runs into financial troubles after a few months
1826         Alexander Mackay takes over
1827        Hugh Mackay takes over
1829        Thomas Mackay takes over
1831         John Morrison & Co takes over, with Patrick Thomson and George MacLennan
1836 - 1920
                 John Ramsay is granted a lease on the distillery by Walter Campbell, Laird of
                 Islay
1892        John Ramsay dies, and his widow Lucy takes over
1906         Lucy Ramsay dies, and her son Captain Iain Ramsay takes over
1920         Captain Iain Ramsay
sells Port Ellen to John Dewar & Sons Ltd, and  James
                 Buchanan & Co, Ltd, the administration is transferred to Port Ellen Distillery Co, Ltd.                        
1925        Buchanan - Dewar joins Distillers Company Limited (D.C.L.)                                                                                 
1929        No production at Port Ellen
1930        Port Ellen is mothballed
                Port Ellen's administration is transferred toScottish Malt Distillers Ltd. (S.M.D.)
1967         After reconstruction and doubling of the number of stills from two to four Port
                 Ellen reopens
1973         A large drum maltings is installed
1980         Queen Elisabeth visits the distillery and a commemorative special bottling is made
1983         Port Ellen is mothballed
1987         Port Ellen closes permanently, but the maltings continue to deliver malt to all
                Islay distilleries

Water: Leorin Loch
Mash tun: 1 x 568 tonnes
Washbacks: 8 x 30.000 litres
2 wash stills x 28000 litres
2 spirit stills x 25000 litres
Output: 750.000 litres

Proces- and cooling water came from
Leorin Lochs. Peat was first cut at Macrie,
Old Lagavulin and Lagan Moss. After1986 peat cam from Duich moss and
Castle hill.

The mash tun was a cast - iron one backs with copper top and the capacity was 5 tonnes.
There were 8 Oregon pine Wash.

The mill was a Porteus

Port Ellen had 4 onion shaped stills, indirect heated. Each Wash still had a capacity of 28.700 litres, each Spirit still had a capacity of 27.500 litres.
Cooling was via worms submerged in tubs and the output was a 2.500.000 litres of spirit a year.

Port Ellen
13 dunnage warehouses with a capacity for 10.000 casks

Port Ellen’s smokiness is quite different to the rest of its neighbours on Islay’s south coast, being both highly maritime in nature alongside a sharp lemon element, light tar and some oiliness in the texture. Because most of the bottlings have been matured in refill casks it is rare to find a Port Ellen with a huge amount of oak. While this accentuates the smokiness it also lends it a somewhat austere nature.

As the world’s love of smoky whiskies has increased so its stock has risen – not necessarily because of it having any greater qualities than its neighbours but simply because it is rare. It is fast becoming a whisky only investors can afford to buy.

Port Ellen was opened in 1824, later than its neighbours onIslay’s south coast. It was built by Alexander Mackay, on the site of a malt mill which had possibly been supplying the many illicit distillers on the Oa Peninsula. Mackay struggled and in 1836 the lease of the distillery was taken by the 21-year-old John Ramsay whose uncle Ebenezer was a distiller based in Clackmannanshire and related to the Steins.

Ramsay was a man of his time. As well as establishing the distillery, he became the business partner of Walter Frederick Campbell who owned Islay. Between them they started the bi-weekly steamer between the island andGlasgow which undoubtedly helped cement whisky-making as a major industry on the island. It also made Port Ellen, rather than Bowmore, the island’s main ferry terminal.

He also introduced ‘improved’ agricultural practises to Islay. One reason for the island not suffering from the worst of theClearances is down to the open and benign attitude of its then laird to his tenants. In 1869, the sales of Port Ellenwere handed to W.P. Lowrie, the blender and broker who among many other things loaned James Buchanan money (and supplied stock) for the young tyro blender. By this timeCampbell’s Port Ellen had already started to be exported to the United States.

The distillery remained in the Ramsay family’s hands until1920 when it was sold to the newly formed Port Ellen Distillery Co. which had been formed by John Dewar andJames Buchanan, who had by then bought Lowrie’sbusiness. When these two firms became part of DCL in 1925, so ownership of Port Ellen passed into the hands of the industry giant. It closed in 1930 and remained silent – something which is often forgotten – until 1967.

In 1973, the old distillery buildings were dwarfed by the new drum maltings which were erected alongside, initially to supply malt for DCL’s three Islay plants, Caol Ila, Lagavulin, and Port Ellen.

Port Ellen’s smokiness is quite different to the rest of its neighbours on Islay’s south coast, being both highly maritime in nature alongside a sharp lemon element, light tar and some oiliness in the texture. Because most of the bottlings have been matured in refill casks it is rare to find a Port Ellen with a huge amount of oak. While this accentuates the smokiness it also lends it a somewhat austere nature.

As the world’s love of smoky whiskies has increased so its stock has risen – not necessarily because of it having any greater qualities than its neighbours but simply because it is rare. It is fast becoming a whisky only investors can afford to buy.

The 1980s whisky loch hit Islay hard. These were the days when the received wisdom was that only a small number of intrepid drinkers would enjoy smoky single malt – indeed single malt wasn’t even being considered as an option by major distillers.

Blenders meanwhile only needed a small percentage of smoky malt in their whisky. The result was that distilleries either went onto short time working, or closed. With three distilleries on the island, DCL was more exposed than most and Port Ellendrew the short straw. In 1983 it closed forever. The maltings only stayed open thanks to a gentlemen’s agreement [the Concordat] between Islay’s distillers in which they all agreed to take a percentage of their malted barley from the plant.

Port Ellen’s fame therefore only came after the distillery doors had been firmly bolted. Stocks are dwindling… and prices rising.

1825
Port Ellen distillery is founded by Alexander Mackay
1836
The distillery lease is taken by John Ramsay
1869
W.P. Lowrie becomes agent of Port Ellen
1920
The Ramsay family sells the business to conglomerate Port Ellen Distillery Co.
1925
The distillery becomes part of the DCL stable
1930
Port Ellen distillery closes
1967
After 37 years the distillery reopens
1973
Drum maltings are built alongside the distillery
1983
Port Ellen closes for the last time
1998
A 21-year-old is released, commemorating the 25th anniversary of the maltings
2001
The first of the Annual Releases is launched

Diageo
1997 - present
PREVIOUS OWNERS

United Distillers
1986 - 1997
Distillers Company Limited
1925 - 1986
John Dewar & Sons
1920 - 1925 (jointly with James Buchanan)
James Buchanan & Company
1920 - 1925 (jointly with John Dewar)
The Ramsay Family
1836 - 1920
The MacKay Family
1825 - 1836

Port Ellen’s smokiness is quite different to the rest of its neighbours on Islay’s south coast, being both highly maritime in nature alongside a sharp lemon element, light tar and some oiliness in the texture. Because most of the bottlings have been matured in refill casks it is rare to find a Port Ellen with a huge amount of oak. While this accentuates the smokiness it also lends it a somewhat austere nature.

As the world’s love of smoky whiskies has increased so its stock has risen – not necessarily because of it having any greater qualities than its neighbours but simply because it is rare. It is fast becoming a whisky only investors can afford to buy.


Port Ellen was opened in 1824, later than its neighbours on Islay’s south coast. It was built by Alexander Mackay, on the site of a malt mill which had possibly been supplying the many illicit distillers on the Oa Peninsula. Mackay struggled and in 1836 the lease of the distillery was taken by the 21-year-old John Ramsay whose uncle Ebenezer was a distiller based in Clackmannanshire and related to the Steins.

Ramsay was a man of his time. As well as establishing the distillery, he became the business partner of Walter Frederick Campbell who owned Islay. Between them they started the bi-weekly steamer between the island and Glasgow which undoubtedly helped cement whisky-making as a major industry on the island. It also made Port Ellen, rather than Bowmore, the island’s main ferry terminal.

He also introduced ‘improved’ agricultural practises toIslay. One reason for the island not suffering from the worst of the Clearances is down to the open and benign attitude of its then laird to his tenants. In 1869, the sales of Port Ellen were handed to W.P. Lowrie, the blender and broker who among many other things loaned James Buchanan money (and supplied stock) for the young tyro blender. By this time Campbell’s Port Ellen had already started to be exported to the United States.

The distillery remained in the Ramsay family’s hands until 1920 when it was sold to the newly formed Port Ellen Distillery Co.. which had been formed by John Dewar and James Buchanan, who had by then bought Lowrie’s business. When these two firms became part of DCL in 1925, so ownership of Port Ellen passed into the hands of the industry giant. It closed in 1930 and remained silent – something which is often forgotten – until 1967.

In 1973, the old distillery buildings were dwarfed by the new drum maltings which were erected alongside, initially to supply malt for DCL’s three Islay plants, Caol Ila, Lagavulin, and Port Ellen.

The 1980s whisky loch hit Islay hard. These were the days when the received wisdom was that only a small number of intrepid drinkers would enjoy smoky single malt – indeed single malt wasn’t even being considered as an option by major distillers.

Blenders meanwhile only needed a small percentage of smoky malt in their whisky. The result was that distilleries either went onto short time working, or closed. With three distilleries on the island, DCL was more exposed than most and Port Ellen drew the short straw. In 1983 it closed forever. The maltings only stayed open thanks to a gentlemen’s agreement [the Concordat] between Islay’s distillers in which they all agreed to take a percentage of their malted barley from the plant.

Port Ellen’s fame therefore only came after the distillery doors had been firmly bolted. Stocks are dwindling… and prices rising.

However, in October 2017 Diageo revealed plans to reopen both Port Ellen and Brora distilleries, which also closed in 1983. Subject to planning permission, the two sites are expected to be operational once more by 2020.


THE RESURRECTION OF PORT ELLEN AND BRORA
October 2017
The shock news that cult distilleries Port Ellen and Brora are being brought back into production has reverberated around the whisky world.  ‘the whisky announcement of a lifetime’.

Port Ellen distillery
Famous name: It is now 34 years since whisky was last made at Port Ellen
In the mythology that surrounds the legions of ‘ghost’ distilleries, two spectres loom especially large: Port Ellenand Brora. While romantics have long fantasised about their revival, realists were typically dismissive of the idea. It turns out that the romantics were right.

Both cult names – Port Ellen on Islay and Brora on the east coast of Sutherland – will be distilling again by 2020 after their owner, world’s largest Scotch whisky producer Diageo, announced a £35m investment to refurbish and refit the two sites.

‘It’s hard to over-estimate the degree of excitement among those people who have been working on this for a year or more now,’ Diageo head of whisky outreach Dr Nick Morgan says. ‘This is a really special day for us and for whisky drinkers everywhere… It’s the whisky announcement of a lifetime.’

The legend surrounding Port Ellen and Brora has only been magnified by their apparently permanent demise. Both were casualties of the early 1980s whisky loch, when the spirit they made for blends was surplus to requirements.

These were different times, when single malts were in their infancy. Only years later – and thanks in no small measure to the annual Special Release bottlings sold by Diageo – did the two distilleries ascend to their current level of fame and value (this year’s Port Ellen and Brora Special Releases were priced at £2,625 and £1,450 per bottle respectively).

Brora distillery

Dual identity: Brora was known as Clynelish, before a new distillery was built on the same site

So why reopen them now? ‘I think there are a number of converging reasons,’ Dr Morgan says. ‘The first thing is that from a Diageo perspective we have a huge amount of confidence in where Scotch is at the moment, and where we think it’s going to be going over the next 15, 20, 25 years.’

The growth of single malt sales around the world – particularly among connoisseurs and collectors – is a key factor, but the remarkable status enjoyed by these two closed distilleries makes them a case apart.

‘When we started bottling Port Ellen and Brora in the Special Releases 15 or 16 years ago, there were many people in Diageo who thought we wouldn’t be able to sell those bottles for £100,’ recalls Dr Morgan.

‘We thought the time was right really to bring those two back from the dead in order to expand the number of people who can enjoy them… This will allow a lot more whisky enthusiasts to do so.’

To Jon Beach, Port Ellen collector and owner ofFiddler’s Highland Restaurant & Whisky Bar on the shores of Loch Ness, the decision to revive the plants is a ‘no-brainer’. He adds: ‘If it had been a smaller company or a medium-sized company, it would have happened already, I would have thought.’

There’s still plenty of work for Diageo to do. Technically, this announcement is that the company is seeking planning permission to restart whisky production on the two sites, as well as working through the various regulatory approvals needed to run a modern whisky distillery.

In the case of Brora, the existing, derelict buildings will be used, and the two stills (which remain there) will be refurbished and recommissioned; worm tubs will be installed again.

Port Ellen Special Releases

Auction favourite: Port Ellen Special Release bottlings are particularly sought-after

For Port Ellen, the work needed is more drastic: a new building will be constructed in the courtyard between the maltings and the old warehouses, and a pair of new stills and condensers built and installed. Diageo says it has ‘detailed drawings’ and records of the old equipment to help this process.

The two distilleries will be small by industry standards, producing 800,000 litres of alcohol a year (similar to the production levels at Oban, but higher than Diageo’s smallest commercial distillery, Royal Lochnagar).

For Brora, that’s a slight reduction on its historic production level of 1m litres of alcohol a year; for Port Ellen, where there were previously two pairs of stills, it more than halves production.

This decision is shaped partly by strategic thinking, and partly by pragmatism. ‘We want these to be – I suppose you could say – small, bespoke distilleries,’ explains Dr Morgan. ‘It will enable us to make the distilleries the way we want them to be, and we couldn’t really do a 5-10m-litre operation [on those sites] even if we wanted to.’

As for the whisky itself, the task will be to recreate what was made in the late 1970s and early 1980s, but with a modern twist. ‘We’ve got enough production records to know how these places were being run in the 1980s, and people still on the payroll who worked on those distilleries, so we can use that wisdom,’ says Dr Morgan.

The modern Port Ellen distillery will be housed in a newly-constructed building

‘Our intention is to try and replicate as far as we can the medium-peated style of whiskies that these distilleries produced. But we know a lot more about distilling now than we did in the 1980s, and we’re also cleverer in terms of things like sustainability.’

Maturation is another matter altogether. Historically, Port Ellen and Brora were filled into cask for use in blends, but the ‘new’ distilleries will be almost entirely ring-fenced for single malt (although Dr Morganhypothesises that mature stock might find its way into high-end Johnnie Walker blends in the future).

‘We haven’t sat down and talked about maturation,’ he says. ‘That does raise some interesting questions, given the cask regimes – or lack of cask regimes – at that time. I’m sure there will be some very interesting conversations about that.’

In the 1970s and 1980s, Port Ellen was often filled (at high strength) into tired, almost inert casks. ‘If they do that again, they’re not going to have any of the “new” Port Ellen or Brora for another 25-30 years,’ points outBeach.

So when can we expect to see the first whiskies from the revived sites? ‘We will probably release them as 12-year-olds, but that’s not to say we wouldn’t put out a very small release of something before then,’ says Dr Morgan– meaning that it could be 2032 before any ‘new’ Broraor Port Ellen hits the market.

The impact on that market – in particular, the buoyant secondary market for these ‘collectible’ single malts – was another serious consideration for Diageo in deciding whether or not to resurrect the distilleries.

Indeed, there have already been some gloomy predictions of falling prices for ‘old’ Brora and Port Ellenas a result of the announcement, but Dr Morgan isn’t convinced by the pessimism.

JON BEACH, PORT ELLEN
June 2016
Scotch whisky appreciation was in the genes of Jon Beach, owner of Fiddler’s Highland Restaurant on the shores of Loch Ness. He talks to Angus MacRaildabout Port Ellen myths, its ever-climbing prices – and how he was ‘trapped’ into collecting its single malts in the first place.

Jon Beach
Who are you and what do you do?
‘My name is Jon Beach and I own and run Fiddler’s Highland Restaurant & Whisky Bar in Drumnadrochit on the shores of Loch Ness. As well as looking after customers from all over the globe, ensuring they have food to eat, drink to enjoy and beds to sleep in, I have the task of keeping Fiddler’s whisky shelves full of great-tasting and interesting bottles of whisky.’

What whisky do you collect and why?
‘Port Ellen was the first whisky that I started collecting. It trapped me into collecting it by having the same name as my mother (Ellen, not Port) and by being an Islay whisky like Lagavulin, my first whisky love. For me, it was sort of a perfect storm of whisky collecting.’

Why did you gravitate to Port Ellen rather than your local closed distilleries: Glen Albyn, Glen Mhor and Millburn?
‘I went to Millburn School next-door to the Millburndistillery whilst it was still producing, so I always stocked Millburn single malt alongside the other Invernessmalts in Fiddler’s. The difference was that I was buying those bottles to sell by the dram in Fiddler’s, whilst the Port Ellen was mostly for “personal consumption”. Recently, though, I've been very lucky to have tasted some amazing “Snecky” malts from all three of its distilleries – including a 1937 Glen Mhor.’

How did your passion for whisky begin?
‘My father Dick was always a Scotch whisky drinker, as was his father, so I suppose my passion for whisky must be in my genes. The other big figure in my whisky story is my father’s great friend Frank Clark, a true gentleman who used to own and run the Cairngorm Whisky Centre on the outskirts of Aviemore.

‘In the back of his treasure trove of a whisky shop (it was the 1980s – can you imagine the stock he had?) was a tasting room full of Scotland’s finest malts. It was in this back room that my fate was sealed.’

How big a part of the Port Ellen legend is the simple fact that it’s closed?
‘Being closed and there only being a finite amount of it left in the world has certainly helped create a cloud of mysticism around Port Ellen. Port Ellen as a brand never really existed, and it never had a marketing story of its own to tell. Whilst it was being made there was a void that has since been filled by many different voices with many different Port Ellen stories to tell. Some true and some fanciful, to say the least.’

Would you like to see the distillery rebuilt?
‘Such is the misinformation and confusion around Port Ellen distillery that many people think that it never actually closed, and some are even planning on booking the tour next time they’re on Islay.

‘Seriously though, a total rebuild of Port Ellen is perhaps outside the realms of possibility and anyway, would you ever be able to recreate all the conditions that helped produce those great whiskies of the past? Diageo would be much better concentrating its energies into recreating the “Lagavulin of the North” up in Brora. It could be their first true “craft” distillery? Since Roseisle…’

The prices for Port Ellen keep on climbing. How does that affect your decision to keep or open a bottle?
‘It’s only in the past year or two that Port Ellen prices started getting really silly, but the silliness has really been exacerbated by new bottlings that have come to market from Diageo and some of the independents.

‘Some might say, though, that actually they are just reacting to the action of the flippers out there, who buy whisky from shops and take them around the corner to an auction house to make a fast buck. Whatever the truth is, the fact is that I feel very sorry for anybody out there today trying to get hold of Port Ellen to drink – if they’re looking to get hold of it as an investment, then that's an entirely different story.

‘Personally speaking, I look at all the bottles of Port Ellen I’ve opened (and emptied) over the years and to me they’re now full of memories of the places that I opened them and the people I shared them with. Of course I’m fully aware of the value of Port Ellen nowadays, but I still firmly believe that the only good Port Ellen is an opened Port Ellen.’

Have the rising prices changed your whisky buying habits?
‘When the prices started increasing rapidly, I pretty quickly stopped buying new releases in shops and looked more to auction houses for replenishing my stock.

‘Alongside Port Ellens, I started bidding on more vintage Islay whiskies from the ’70s and ’80s and, after opening and tasting them, I came to the conclusion that one of the reasons I liked Port Ellen so much was because, like me, it was a product of the 1970s. Many 1970s whiskies from Islay’s other distilleries are really special too – not as sublime as some of the Islay whiskies I’ve tasted from the 1960s and 1950s, but nonetheless great and definitely more affordable.’

How do you feel about whisky investment – and do you consider yourself an ‘investor’?
‘I buy whisky for three main reasons: primarily, stock for the gantry in Fiddler’s; my personal collection; and, finally, for personal consumption (the last two reasons are pretty much interchangeable).

‘I’ll put my hand up and admit that maybe 15 years ago I may have been buying many of the bottles in my collection as some kind of investment; I’d tried talking to financial consultants but I found their ideas of ISAs, savings plans etc very dull indeed.

‘It turns out my idea of investing in whisky was a sound one, not because of any increase in the value of the whisky, but in that I am now able to enjoy these whiskies and reap rewards of a different kind: the reward of enjoying and sharing a great whisky with friends. Fortunately, I have many great friends who think the same and see their whiskies as things to be opened and enjoyed too. These are the best kind of whisky friends to have.’

Do you think you’d be as passionate about whisky if you didn’t have a business that was so immersed in it?
‘The answer, I suppose, is probably not as it’s mainly through Fiddler’s that I’ve met most of the great people I know in the whisky world. Don’t get me wrong: I’m sure I would still love whisky wherever I was and whatever else I may have done, but Fiddler’s has really been the catalyst for most of the connections I have with whisky.’

What do you think of Diageo’s stewardship of the Port Ellen legacy: the marketing, the bottlings, the prices?
‘When I started buying Diageo’s releases of Port Ellen,they were pretty much the only Port Ellens that were over £100 – a lot for me to spend back in 2001 (I wanted the Broras too, but they were far too expensive at £200 a bottle). Now £100 would be the price of a single serve of last year’s 15th release. Crazy. Mad. Bonkers.

‘Diageo’s marketing of Port Ellen seems to consist of including it amongst their yearly Special Release offerings alongside rare and occasionally unusual whiskies from their stable. The Port Ellen release certainly helps put a bit of a shine on the other bottles, and used to be the one that was snapped up the quickest, but now, thanks to the high prices of these bottles, they are hanging around in shops a lot longer than they used to.

‘The 15th release is the only release I haven’t tasted, but as a lowly barkeep why would I get invited to any of the launch parties or get any samples in shiny boxes...?’

Port Ellen in its modern guise – although only operational for 16 years – had several mini ‘eras’ of production. Do you have a favourite?
‘The ’70s was a transitional time for many distilleries, with the old, inefficient and slow methods of production being replaced by more modern and efficient methods. This really shows with the ’69, ’70 and ’71 vintages I've tasted. They are really special – don’t get me wrong, the later vintages are really great too – but for me the earlier vintages are amongst the best whiskies I’ve ever tasted.’


What are the most prized bottles in your collection?
‘I think I’d have to say it’s the empty bottle of 1969 Gordon & MacPhail for Intertrade I took to Islay on the Rosebank-to-Port Ellen charity cycle I did back in 2011. I poured it alongside a 1980s 12-year-old Rosebank in the old Port Ellen filling store in the middle of a wild Hebridean storm.

‘It’s a bit sad, but I had a portrait done of the two bottles and it hangs on the wall in my “study”. I also have a few early 1970s vintage bottles put aside for future birthdays and, of course, for 2025, Port Ellen’s 200th anniversary.’

What are your holy grail bottles to taste/own/find?
‘A few years ago a wise Dutchman said to me about Port Ellen collecting that “the first 500 bottles are easy; it’s the last six that are impossible to get hold of”. Well, I’ve tasted three of the last six, so it’s just the Maltings Anniversary bottling, the 1969 OMC for the Whisky Fair and the James MacArthur Dark Sherry bottling to go.’

What do you think about the modern Scotch whisky industry and the nature of the product nowadays?
‘I sell a lot of modern, standard whiskies in Fiddler’s,with the majority in my smaller list of only 100 bottles being currently available, and I have to say the quality is high and, as I travel from Loch Ness around the world and the world travels to Loch Ness, the feedback is thatScotch whisky is synonymous with quality.

‘Unfortunately, more and more whiskies which I used to sell a lot of have had to move up to the higher shelves, making them less affordable and harder to recommend, but I suppose that’s the plan: rationing by price. I made a decision this year to make all the bottles in my small list carry an age statement; it wasn’t hard and I hope that doesn’t change.

‘As far as older-style whiskies go, I’m watching theDornoch distillery with interest. Their plans to recreate 1950s- and 1960s-style distillates are well-researched and feasible, and I’m looking forward to drinking the “Port Ellen of the North” in the future. The boys in Dornoch are at the forefront of a slow turnaround that’s already starting, with a focus less on stories of fairies and suchlike, and a concentration on production processes, provenance and facts.’

You’ve  been involved with organising these crazy whisky tours with the Glug Glug Club for the past few years. How did that come about?
‘It’s quite simple really: get a bunch of guys from all over the world with cupboards full of fantastic bottles of single malts and give them an excuse to open them by organising winter trips to different parts of Scotland and its many distilleries. We’re planning another epic trip from Edinburgh to Orkney in November. Stay tuned...’

What’s been the greatest whisky experience of your life so far?
‘There have been many happy whisky times, from quaffing cocktails and Port Ellen with deranged billionaires in Brooklyn; sharing Port Ellen, Balblair and Tomatin with European royalty; and enjoying Springbank, cheese and oatcakes in a VW bus under a spinning disco ball…

‘But the time I stood in Richard Paterson’s sample room sipping 1930s-distilled Dalmore with my father has to be up there at the top of the list, alongside the time that 1899 vintage Glenlivet got opened. Then again, there was that bottle of Queen’s Visit Port Ellenlast year on the Islay Odyssey...’

The news of Kilchoman’s expansion last autumn was somewhat overshadowed by Diageo’s announcement in October that it is to rebuild Port Ellen, that most hallowed of ‘lost’ distilleries.

While the revived Port Ellen will have a handy supply of malt from the neighbouring maltings and be able to mature its spirit in the existing seafront warehouses, a new distillery has to be constructed.

This facility will contain a pair of stills and condensers made to the same design as the old equipment – part of Diageo’s £35m plans to revive Port Ellen and Brora in the Highlands.

Port Ellen redux will have a capacity of 800,000 lpa per year, and the plan is to have the distillery up and running by 2020.

GEORGIE CRAWFORD
May 2018
Lagavulin distillery manager Georgie Crawford is to leave her post in order to bring cult Islay single maltPort Ellen back into production.

Chance of a lifetime: Georgie Crawford is ‘thrilled’ to take on the task of reviving Port Ellen
Meanwhile, Clynelish site operations manager Stewart Bowman will quit his role to revive single malt whisky production at neighbouring Brora in the Highlands, distillery owner Diageo has announced.

Crawford and Bowman will both have the title of project implementation manager for their respective distilleries – part of Diageo’s plans to revive production at the two sites, announced last October.

The moves also see Colin Gordon, currently site operations manager at Port Ellen Maltings, take over from Crawford as Lagavulin distillery manager.

The changes will take effect shortly after next week’sIslay Festival, Diageo said.

‘It has been a real privilege to be the Lagavulin distillery manager and to work with the fantastic team there for so many years,’ said Crawford.

‘However, the opportunity to bring Port Ellen distillery back into production truly is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I am thrilled to take it on.’

Bowman said he was ‘hugely excited’ to be given the task of reviving production at Brora. ‘The whisky at Brora is revered for its quality, and it is an honour to have the job of bringing distillation back so we can produce a new generation of exceptional Brora Scotchwhisky,’ he added.

Port Ellen and Brora both closed in 1983, deemed surplus to requirements during a grim period for the Scotch whisky industry, but have since acquired a cult status among lovers of malt whisky.

They are set to return to production in 2020 Brora by refurbishing existing buildings, and Port Ellen in a new building on the Islay site.

Meanwhile, Diageo has announced details of this year’sIslay Festival bottlings: an 18-year-old cask strengthLagavulin (6,000 bottles, 53.9% abv, £130); and a 10-year-old cask strength Caol Ila (2,496 bottles, 58.2% abv, £100).

JOHN RAMSAY
June 2018
John Ramsay arrived at Port Ellen distillery on Islay at the age of 18 and, during his lifetime, became the effective owner of all five distilleries along the Kildalton coast. But he was also a great agricultural moderniser and helped many of his tenants escape poverty by emigrating to Canada.

Port Ellen distillery
As it was: Port Ellen could well have closed in the 19th century, but for Ramsay’s arrival
By any stretch of the imagination, John Ramsay was a remarkable man. Largely self-educated after leaving the tutelage of his dominie Peter MacDougall in Stirling at the age of 12, by the time he was 25 in 1840 he was established as a farmer-distiller residing in Port Ellen, Islay. His journey from Lowland Scotland to Islay was no less remarkable.

The Ramsays were a large Clackmannanshire family whose business interests extended to the United States, New Brunswick and Lower Canada and they were related to some of the other great Lowland distilling families, such as the Morrisons and the Steins.

Ramsay’s father was a maltster and distiller in Alloa,but his business affairs were not sound and, after his mother died, John recognised that he had to seek his fortune elsewhere.

At the age of 12, he rode off through the January snow from the protection of his Aunt Kirsty’s house in Alloa to head for Glasgow, where he found work first in Balfron and later as clerk in a cotton mill in Eaglesham.

He was 13 and maintained immaculate accounts of his income and expenditure, which included seven shillings to a Mr Laidlaw for teaching him Latin. The Ramsays considered themselves reformers and, throughout his life,Ramsay was to advocate that education was of prime importance.

In April 1831, Ramsay’s father left Scotland for good and sailed for Montreal, where he was to establish a saddlery business and marry again. Meanwhile, John Ramsay was looking further afield for new work and it was his uncle, Ebenezer Ramsay, the Procurator Fiscal for Clackmannanshire, who asked John to travel to Port Ellen distillery in 1833 to ascertain how satisfactory the management of the family concern was.

Ramsay’s cousin, Ebenezer jnr, had been similarly tasked by his father but had failed to report back. Ramsay’s relation John Morrison from Alloa was at this time in charge of the distillery.

Due to contrary winds, he was put ashore at Gleann Choiredail near McArthur’s Head (where the lighthouse now stands at the entrance to the Sound of Islay). From there he had to trek the 12 miles overland to Port Ellen, where he arrived to find that Eben had left on the same day to report back to his father that the distillery was unworkable.

Ramsay soon realised that this was not the case and told his uncle so. With the timely return of John’s elder brother Thomas from New Brunswick, it was agreed that John should be trained in Alloa as a distiller byJames Morrison (John Morrison’s brother), and then return to Port Ellen to take over as manager at an annual salary of £150 (around £17,000 in today’s money).

At this time, the lease for Port Ellen was held by Major James Adair of Dumfries, a peg-legged veteran of Waterloo. His death in 1840 meant that the lease would be once more available upon its imminent expiry.

The Islay laird, Walter Frederick Campbell,recognising John Ramsay’s precocious business acumen and ambition, exercised his right of preemption to secure the lease and purchased the distilling business for £1,950 (around £192,000 now).

Ramsay reimbursed Campbell, who drew up a new lease in his name, along with the others for the neighbouring farms of Cornabus and Kilnaughton. John Ramsay was now in business on his own terms and he was to have a profound effect on Islay during the rest of his life.

With Port Ellen distillery under sound management, Ramsay turned his attention to agriculture, modernising his farm at Cornabus, as well as draining bogland and being the first to plant turnips in his parish.

He would become a well-known contributor to the pages of the Glasgow Herald for many years to come, writing under the pen-name ‘Scottish Farmer’. By 1845, Cornabus was being held up as a model Islay farm where modern agronomy practices first took root on the island.

Under Ramsay, Port Ellen became a pioneer in the world of Scotch

Port Ellen distillery was notable for a number of ‘firsts’. The first spirit safe in Scotland had been installed there and tested by its inventor James Fox before Ramsay’s involvement, but it was then developed into the instrument which is to be seen at every malt distillery inScotland today.

Direct exports from Port Ellen to the US were first instigated by Ramsay, who had handed day-to-day management of the distillery over to James Stein, one of the distillers at Ardenistiel Distillery at Laphroaig, who married Ramsay’s sister Margaret and moved to Port Ellen in 1848.

Stein’s arrival allowed Ramsay to spend much more time on the mainland side of his business. Through some family inheritance he invested in and built up the importation of Sherry and Madeira, using the casks to mature his Islay whisky; Ramsay also successfully lobbied the government for the creation of duty-free warehousing.

Walter Campbell entrusted Ramsay with many of his personal affairs, to the extent of co-owning a regular steam packet, the Modern Athens, between theHebrides and Glasgow, and later the Islay which after 1855 serviced the Islay-Glasgow route via Portrush and West Loch Tarbert, and in which severalIslay distillers had shares.

Islay’s population had boomed to 15,000 in the early 1840s, and Campbell’s estate was suffering as a result of this. Despite efforts to introduce light industry, reopening the lead mines, and building farm steadings and new villages, the bulk of the land was worked in a feudal and primitive manner.

The potato famine of 1846 brought Islay’s rural population to the brink of starvation, and Ramsay informed Campbell that his estate was in a precarious position.

By the end of 1847, rent arrears stood at £32,000 (£3.2m now) and Campbell’s estate was sequestered and went into administration for the next six years. John Ramsay and Campbell’s son John Francis became trustees.

Ramsay came to be effective owner of no fewer than five Kildalton distilleries

In 1853, a buyer for the Islay estate emerged in the shape of James Morrison of Basildon, who agreed with Ramsay before the public roup (an auction by sealed bids) that, if successful, Ramsay could relieve him of part of the Kildalton parish with an option to purchase the remainder later.

Morrison’s bid succeeded and, on 9 May 1855,Ramsay came into possession of a large swathe of land to the north and east of Port Ellen, which was supplemented in 1858 with the further purchase of his leaseholdings.

His outlays came to £82,265 (£9.9m now) and included the land on which the distilleries of Laphroaig, Ardenistiel, Lagavulin and Ardbeg were established. Furthermore, these concerns also had to pay rental on their businesses to Ramsay, making him the de facto owner of all five Kildalton distilleries.

Before entering politics, Ramsay helped to relieve the immense burden of poverty and over-population on Islay in the 1860s by financing the emigration of many of his tenants to Canada and helping them to make new lives there. He even crossed the Atlantic and visited them in 1870 to see how they were doing. No other Scottishlaird made such a journey after similar emigrations.

Ramsay’s distilleries evolved into the 20th century after he died on Islay in 1892, but his grandson, Captain Iain Ramsay, could only counteract the post-war effects of the Depression by delaying the inevitable for so long. One by one, the distilleries of Port Ellen, Laphroaig, Lagavulin and Ardbeg were sold off.

However, according to his grand-daughter-in-law Freda,it was not these famous distilleries which would be John Ramsay’s greatest memorial, but rather his fellow Ileachs who had emigrated across the Atlantic and created ‘prosperity and happiness across the length and breadth of North America’.

THE RESURRECTION OF PORT ELLEN AND BRORA
October 2017
The shock news that cult distilleries Port Ellen and Brora are being brought back into production has reverberated around the whisky world. ‘the whisky announcement of a lifetime’.

Port Ellen distillery
Famous name: It is now 34 years since whisky was last made at Port Ellen
In the mythology that surrounds the legions of ‘ghost’distilleries, two spectres loom especially large: Port Ellenand Brora. While romantics have long fantasised about their revival, realists were typically dismissive of the idea. It turns out that the romantics were right.

Both cult names – Port Ellen on Islay and Brora on the east coast of Sutherland – will be distilling again by 2020 after their owner, world’s largest Scotch whisky producer Diageo, announced a £35m investment to refurbish and refit the two sites.

‘It’s hard to over-estimate the degree of excitement among those people who have been working on this for a year or more now,’ Diageo head of whisky outreach Dr Nick Morgan says. ‘This is a really special day for us and for whisky drinkers everywhere… It’s the whisky announcement of a lifetime.’

The legend surrounding Port Ellen and Brora has only been magnified by their apparently permanent demise. Both were casualties of the early 1980s whisky loch, when the spirit they made for blends was surplus to requirements.

These were different times, when single malts were in their infancy. Only years later – and thanks in no small measure to the annual Special Release bottlings sold by Diageo – did the two distilleries ascend to their current level of fame and value (this year’s Port Ellenand Brora Special Releases were priced at £2,625 and £1,450 per bottle respectively).

Brora distillery

Dual identity: Brora was known as Clynelish, before a new distillery was built on the same site

So why reopen them now? ‘I think there are a number of converging reasons,’ Dr Morgan says. ‘The first thing is that from a Diageo perspective we have a huge amount of confidence in where Scotch is at the moment, and where we think it’s going to be going over the next 15, 20, 25 years.’

The growth of single malt sales around the world – particularly among connoisseurs and collectors – is a key factor, but the remarkable status enjoyed by these two closed distilleries makes them a case apart.

‘When we started bottling Port Ellen and Brora in the Special Releases 15 or 16 years ago, there were many people in Diageo who thought we wouldn’t be able to sell those bottles for £100,’ recalls Dr Morgan.

‘We thought the time was right really to bring those two back from the dead in order to expand the number of people who can enjoy them… This will allow a lot more whisky enthusiasts to do so.’

To Jon Beach, Port Ellen collector and owner of Fiddler’s Highland Restaurant & Whisky Bar on the shores of Loch Ness, the decision to revive the plants is a ‘no-brainer’. He adds: ‘If it had been a smaller company or a medium-sized company, it would have happened already, I would have thought.’

There’s still plenty of work for Diageo to do. Technically, this announcement is that the company is seeking planning permission to restart whisky production on the two sites, as well as working through the various regulatory approvals needed to run a modern whisky distillery.

In the case of Brora, the existing, derelict buildings will be used, and the two stills (which remain there) will be refurbished and recommissioned; worm tubs will be installed again.

Port Ellen Special Releases

Auction favourite: Port Ellen Special Release bottlings are particularly sought-after
and installed
For Port Ellen, the work needed is more drastic: a new building will be constructed in the courtyard between the maltings and the old warehouses, and a pair of new stills and condensers built . Diageo says it has ‘detailed drawings’ and records of the old equipment to help this process.

The two distilleries will be small by industry standards, producing 800,000 litres of alcohol a year (similar to the production levels at Oban, but higher than Diageo’s smallest commercial distillery, Royal Lochnagar).

For Brora, that’s a slight reduction on its historic production level of 1m litres of alcohol a year; for Port Ellen, where there were previously two pairs of stills, it more than halves production.

This decision is shaped partly by strategic thinking, and partly by pragmatism. ‘We want these to be – I suppose you could say – small, bespoke distilleries,’ explains Dr Morgan. ‘It will enable us to make the distilleries the way we want them to be, and we couldn’t really do a 5-10m-litre operation [on those sites] even if we wanted to.’

As for the whisky itself, the task will be to recreate what was made in the late 1970s and early 1980s, but with a modern twist. ‘We’ve got enough production records to know how these places were being run in the 1980s, and people still on the payroll who worked on those distilleries, so we can use that wisdom,’ says Dr Morgan.

The modern Port Ellen distillery will be housed in a newly-constructed building

‘Our intention is to try and replicate as far as we can the medium-peated style of whiskies that these distilleries produced. But we know a lot more about distilling now than we did in the 1980s, and we’re also cleverer in terms of things like sustainability.’

Maturation is another matter altogether. Historically, Port Ellen and Brora were filled into cask for use in blends, but the ‘new’ distilleries will be almost entirely ring-fenced for single malt (although Dr Morganhypothesises that mature stock might find its way into highend Johnnie Walker blends in the future).

‘We haven’t sat down and talked about maturation,’ he says. ‘That does raise some interesting questions, given the cask regimes – or lack of cask regimes – at that time. I’m sure there will be some very interesting conversations about that.’

In the 1970s and 1980s, Port Ellen was often filled (at high strength) into tired, almost inert casks. ‘If they do that again, they’re not going to have any of the “new” Port Ellen or Brora for another 25-30 years,’ points out Beach.

So when can we expect to see the first whiskies from the revived sites? ‘We will probably release them as 12-year-olds, but that’s not to say we wouldn’t put out a very small release of something before then,’ says Dr Morgan– meaning that it could be 2032 before any ‘new’ Broraor Port Ellen hits the market.

The impact on that market – in particular, the buoyant secondary market for these ‘collectible’ single malts – was another serious consideration for Diageo in deciding whether or not to resurrect the distilleries.

Indeed, there have already been some gloomy predictions of falling prices for ‘old’ Brora and Port Ellen as a result of the announcement, but Dr Morgan isn’t convinced by the pessimism.

JOHNNIE WALKER BLUE CELEBRATES PORT ELLEN
July 2018
The lost distillery of Port Ellen is to be celebrated in the second edition of Johnnie Walker Blue Label’s Ghost and Rare series.

Ghostly influence: Johnnie Walker Blue Label Ghostand Rare Port Ellen is built around the lost distillery’s whisky
The blended Scotch has been built around whisky from the lost Islay distillery of Port Ellen, which closed in 1983.

To ‘recapture the memory’ of the Islay single malt, Johnnie Walker master blender Jim Beveridge has blended Port Ellen with grain whiskies from two other lost distilleries – Carsebridge, which closed in 1983,and Caledonian, which closed in 1988.

The rest of the blend is comprised of ‘incredibly rare’malts from Mortlach, Dailuaine, Cragganmore, Blair Athol and Oban.

Beveridge said the ‘creamy vanilla sweetness’ of the grains, partnered with the ‘rolling waves of citrus, rich malt and tropical fruit flavours’ of the malts, all ‘perfectly balance the distinctive maritime smokiness of Port Ellen’.

Johnnie Walker Blue Label Ghost and Rare Port Ellen has been bottled without an age statement at 43.8% abv.

The whisky is presented in an individually-numbered bottle displaying a map of Scotland, showing each of the distilleries used in the blend.

The expression is the second in the series, which focuses on the characteristics of lost distilleries in the Diageo portfolio.

The first Ghost and Rare Edition, launched in December 2017, was built around the whisky produced at Highland distillery Brora, which – just like Port Ellen – is set to reopen in 2020.

‘These whiskies deliver a fascinating glimpse into another world, exploring the unique character of whiskies from a small number of iconic, closed distilleries,’ Beveridge said.

‘It’s really interesting to be able to put a spotlight on the character of these whiskies.’

Johnnie Walker Ghost and Rare Port Ellen will be available globally from October for £275/ US$349.99 per bottle

Two of Scotland’s most famous ‘lost’ distilleries to be revived by Diageo. Two "lost" Scotch whisky distilleries are set to be revived with a major investment more than 30 years after they were shut down. The Port Ellen distillery on the island of Islay and the Brora distillery on the remote eastern coast of Sutherland are being brought back into production by drinks giant Diageo through a £35 million investment. Following the closure of the sites in 1983, the whiskies produced by the two “ghost” distilleries have become some of the most highly-prized and sought-after. The plan to reopen their doors follows demand from whisky fans to do so and reflects the strong growth in the single malt market, according to the firm. Port Ellen’s rare whisky is highly sought after.  David Cutter, Diageo’s president of global supply and procurement, 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.” • Eight of Scotland’s most famous lost whisky distilleries The new distilleries will be among Diageo’s smallest, capable of producing 800,000 litres of alcohol per year. Bosses vowed 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 are expected to be in production by 2020, subject to factors such as planning permission and design work. Cask filling and traditional warehousing will also be included at both sites. • Reviving spirit of Scotland’s lost generation of 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.” • One of the rarest Single Malts sells for surprising price at auction Economy Secretary Keith Brown said: “I welcome this significant investment by Diageo which will help to create employment in these rural and remote communities and is a sign of the strength and popularity of our iconic whisky industry. “The return of these distilleries will help to act as a catalyst to draw in tourists to see where these iconic brands are produced, and to discover why they are so revered.” 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.”

DIAGEO REVEALS FURTHER PORT ELLEN PLANS
January 2019
Diageo has revealed further plans for the revival of Port Ellen distillery on Islay as part of a public consultation today (29 January).

Port Ellen's existing kiln and warehouses will be complemented by a new still house
The plans, which are due to be submitted to Argyll and Bute Council for approval later this year, were unveiled today at a pre-planning consultation in the village of Port Ellen, allowing local residents to view the proposals and share their own memories of the distillery.

Diageo revealed its intention to reopen Port Ellendistillery in October 2017, with a view to having the site operational by 2020, however the opening date has now been pushed back to 2021.

Among the plans is an outline of how the distillery will look once building work is completed, as well as details of two separate distillation regimes.

Since its closure in 1983 only Port Ellen’s kiln building with pagoda roof, and its seaside warehouses remain – many of the original buildings were demolished in the 1930s, and then partly rebuilt in the 1960s.

Diageo now intends to fully restore the remaining buildings and erect a new still house, which will house two pairs of copper pot stills.

One pair will be closely modeled after the original Port Ellen stills so as to recreate the distillery’s spirit character.

The second, smaller pair of stills will be used to create ‘alternative spirit characters’ that will allow Port Ellen to ‘experiment with new whisky styles.

Georgie Crawford, project implementation manager for Port Ellen, said plans to revive the distillery are ‘any whisky maker’s dream come true’.

She said: ‘To have the opportunity to recreate the original spirit character of Port Ellen distillery so we have new generations of that classic Islay peated malt is incredible, but then to combine that with the freedom to experiment with new variations is truly extraordinary.’

The new ‘spacious and modern, light-filled’ buildings, which will house all the process equipment, will be erected around a central courtyard, with the existing kiln and warehouses ‘restored and reimagined’.

Crawford added: ‘Like the whisky, the plans for the building combine the best of heritage and innovation.

‘The buildings at Port Ellen distillery have changed and evolved many times over its lifetime.

‘We believe these plans are a fitting tribute to the exceptional legacy of Port Ellen and we are incredibly excited to be able to share them.’

Port Ellen’s refurbishment is part of a £35 million investment by Diageo in resurrecting the Islay distillery, as well as the Highland distillery of Brora which also closed in 1983.

Diageo is also investing an additional £150m in improving its Scotch whisky tourism facilities, including upgrading its 12 distillery visitor centres and the establishment of a flagship Johnnie Walker experience in Edinburgh.

Although Port Ellen first opened in 1824, its resurrection could see it become the 11th distillery to operate on Islay, following the recent opening of Ardnahoe, and the planned as-yet-unnamed distillery at Farkin from Elixir Distillers.


Port Ellen’s smokiness is quite different to the rest of its neighbours on Islay’s south coast, being both highly maritime in nature alongside a sharp lemon element, light tar and some oiliness in the texture. Because most of the bottlings have been matured in refill casks it is rare to find a Port Ellen with a huge amount of oak. While this accentuates the smokiness it also lends it a somewhat austere nature.

As the world’s love of smoky whiskies has increased so its stock has risen – not necessarily because of it having any greater qualities than its neighbours but simply because it is rare. It is fast becoming a whisky only investors can afford to buy.

DISTILLERY STATUS
Demolished

Port Ellen was opened in 1824, later than its neighbours on Islay’s south coast. It was built by Alexander Mackay, on the site of a malt mill which had possibly been supplying the many illicit distillers on the Oa Peninsula. Mackay struggled and in 1836 the lease of the distillery was taken by the 21-year-old John Ramsay whose uncle Ebenezer was a distiller based in Clackmannanshire and related to the Steins.

Ramsay was a man of his time. As well as establishing the distillery, he became the business partner of Walter Frederick Campbell who owned Islay. Between them they started the bi-weekly steamer between the island and Glasgow which undoubtedly helped cement whisky-making as a major industry on the island. It also made Port Ellen, rather than Bowmore, the island’s main ferry terminal.

He also introduced ‘improved’ agricultural practises to Islay. One reason for the island not suffering from the worst of the Clearances is down to the open and benign attitude of its then laird to his tenants. In 1869, the sales of Port Ellen were handed to W.P. Lowrie, the blender and broker who among many other things loaned James Buchanan money (and supplied stock) for the young tyro blender. By this time Campbell’s Port Ellen had already started to be exported to the United States.

The distillery remained in the Ramsay family’s hands until 1920 when it was sold to the newly formed Port Ellen Distillery Co.. which had been formed by John Dewar and James Buchanan, who had by then bought Lowrie’s business. When these two firms became part of DCL in 1925, so ownership of Port Ellen passed into the hands of the industry giant. It closed in 1930 and remained silent – something which is often forgotten – until 1967.

In 1973, the old distillery buildings were dwarfed by the new drum maltings which were erected alongside, initially to supply malt for DCL’s three Islay plants, Caol Ila, Lagavulin, and Port Ellen.

The 1980s whisky loch hit Islay hard. These were the days when the received wisdom was that only a small number of intrepid drinkers would enjoy smoky single malt – indeed single malt wasn’t even being considered as an option by major distillers.

Blenders meanwhile only needed a small percentage of smoky malt in their whisky. The result was that distilleries either went onto short time working, or closed. With three distilleries on the island, DCL was more exposed than most and Port Ellen drew the short straw. In 1983 it closed forever. The maltings only stayed open thanks to a gentlemen’s agreement [the Concordat] between Islay’s distillers in which they all agreed to take a percentage of their malted barley from the plant.

Port Ellen’s fame therefore only came after the distillery doors had been firmly bolted. Stocks are dwindling… and prices rising.

However, in October 2017 Diageo revealed plans to reopen both Port Ellen and Brora distilleries, which also closed in 1983. Subject to planning permission, the two sites are expected to be operational once more by 2020.

CURRENT OWNER
Diageo
1997 - present
PREVIOUS OWNERS
United Distillers
1986 - 1997
Distillers Company Limited
1925 - 1986
John Dewar & Sons
1920 - 1925 (jointly with James Buchanan)
James Buchanan & Company
1920 - 1925 (jointly with John Dewar)
The Ramsay Family
1836 - 1920
The MacKay Family
1825 - 1836

PORT ELLEN RETURNS IN UNTOLD STORIES SERIES
February 2019
Port Ellen is making a return to shelves this spring in a new series of regular releases, starting with the oldest globally-available whisky from the silent distillery.

Port Ellen Untold Stories The Spirit Safe 39 Year Old
Untold Stories: The new Port Ellen series will champion the distillery's long history
The Port Ellen Untold Stories Series will include regular bottlings of some of the last remaining stocks from the Islay distillery, which closed in 1983.

The first release, Port Ellen: Untold Stories The Spirit Safe, is a 39-year-old single malt matured in a selection of ex-Bourbon and ex-refill European oak Sherry casks and bottled at 50.9% abv.

It’s described as having aromas of soft peat smoke and ‘an abundance of fruit: sultanas, melon, lime with a hint of ginger ale’, with a ‘smooth texture and a sweet, salty then smoky’ taste.

Just 1,500 bottles have been produced, which will be available at specialist retailers worldwide from early April for around £4,500 each.

Each bottle is presented in a wooden display case, which can only be opened with two unique keys.

Tom Jones, global prestige brand ambassador for brand owner Diageo, said: ‘There is the regular smoke from the local peat, but this one is softer. As this release has been selected from a small number of casks, it is very different to other Port Ellen releases.

‘Authentic in character, as it came from the casks and natural in colour, this liquid will no doubt inspire connoisseurs and collectors alike to own this once in a lifetime piece of history.’

Its launch marks the first new release from Port Ellen’s stocks since it was removed from Diageo’s annual Special Releases line-up in 2018.

Port Ellen distillery, which was founded in 1825, was closed in 1983 during a period of over-supply in the Scotch whisky industry.

Earlier this year distillery owner Diageo revealed plans to revive the site, with a view to return to whisky production at Port Ellen in 2021.

Georgie Crawford, master distiller at Port Ellen, added: ‘There’s an ethereal quality to Port Ellen and to the distillery itself. It is not easy to grasp what makes it so unique, but the people definitely matter.

‘John Ramsay [Port Ellen’s founder] was an early innovator in the whisky industry, and not many people know how important Port Ellen was in the early days of the whisky industry.

‘Through this release we hope to give more insight into why it is so special a liquid, not just for its flavour, but for its history.’

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