A HISTORIC distillery on the island of Islay is set to be brought back into production after nearly four decades.

The distillery of Port Ellen will be restored through “an inspirational combination of heritage and originality” under proposals approved by Argyll and Bute Council planners.

As part of the Diageo plans the pagoda-roofed kiln house will be restored alongside the creation of new production buildings.


It is claimed the new Port Ellen stillhouse will bring together traditional and innovative approaches to distilling under one roof with two pairs of copper pot stills and two separate distillation regimes.

The primary distillation regime will recreate the original spirit character of the distillery, using two stills that exactly replicate the original Port Ellen copper pot stills.

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Georgie Crawford, the master distiller leading the Port Ellen project, said: “We are delighted to have reached this important milestone in our journey to bring Port Ellen back into production.

“We are incredibly excited to begin the next phase of the project and to make our long-cherished dream of restoring Port Ellen distillery a reality.”

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Alongside this will be a second, smaller pair of stills that will produce alternative spirit characters, allowing the Port Ellen whisky makers the freedom to experiment with new whisky styles.

The company said that this approach to distillation pays homage to John Ramsay who owned Port Ellen in its formative years and made it one of the most innovative distilleries of the 19th century.

His pioneering skill and dedication helped develop many of the techniques and equipment that have since become mainstays of the Scotch whisky industry.

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The buildings at Port Ellen have gone through many changes since it first opened in 1825, with the distillery closing and largely being demolished in the 1930s, before being rebuilt in the 1960s, and closed in 1983.

Diageo announced the £35 million plan to bring back Port Ellen and Brora in Sutherland in 2017. Both are now due back in production by 2021.

In the last three years the company has embarked on an additional £150m investment programme in Scotch whisky tourism – the biggest ever seen in the sector – which will create the Johnnie Walker Princes Street global flagship visitor experience in Edinburgh as well as investing in the company’s existing 12 distillery visitor centres.