Port Ellen Distillery plans sent to council

7th May, 2019 by Amy Hopkins

Diageo has outlined its plans to revive the silent Port Ellen Distillery on Islay, 35 years after the site closed.

Artist’s impression of the revived Port Ellen Distillery

The group first announced its plans to invest £35 million (US$46m) in reviving its Port Ellen and Brora distilleries in October 2017. Both sites closed in 1983 and are expected to be back in production by 2021.

Diageo has now submitted a detailed planning application to Argyll & Bute Council following community engagement and a pre-application consultation.

According to the plans, Port Ellen will feature a combination of “modern and heritage buildings housing both traditional and innovative approaches to distilling”.

The distillery will use two pairs of copper pot stills and two separate distillation regimes.

The first primary regime will use two stills that replicate the original Port Ellen copper pot stills to recreate the original spirit character of the distillery.

The second will use a smaller pair of stills to produce “alternative” spirit characters and new styles of whisky. Diageo says this experimental approach to distillation pays homage to John Ramsay, who owned Port Ellen in its formative years in the 1800s.

The original kiln building with its classic pagoda roofs and the traditional sea-front warehouses will be restored as part of the development plans.

Port Ellen first opened in 1824 and was largely demolished in the 1930s before being rebuilt in the 1960s. Following its most recent closure in 1983 very few of the original buildings remain.

“This is another hugely significant milestone on our journey to bring Port Ellen Distillery back to life,” said Georgie Crawford, the master distiller who is leading the project.

“This is no ordinary distillery project, we are bringing a true whisky legend back to life and we believe our plans do justice to the iconic status of Port Ellen and will capture the imagination of whisky fans from all over the world.”

In addition to its investment in Port Ellen and Brora, Diageo has pledged to spend £150m (US$196m) enhancing its distillery visitor experiences in Scotland, including the build of a Johnnie Walker experience in Edinburgh, plans for which were submitted in February this year.

In October last year, Diageo secured planning permission for its work on Brora, based on the eastern coast of Sutherland.

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