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Elixir Distillers names Islay distillery

Six months after breaking ground, Elixir Distillers has confirmed its new Islay distillery will be called Portintruan.

Elixir Distillers' Portintruan site
Portintruan anticipates it will start distilling from early 2024

Pronounced Port-nah-truan, the distillery takes its name from the historic farm estate where the distillery is located and means ‘place of the stream’.

It is located just outside the town of Port Ellen on Islay’s south coast, and can be found on the way to the Laphroaig, Lagavulin and Ardbeg distilleries.

Co-owner Sukhinder Singh explained the vision for the distillery: “Elixir Distillers has always taken a flavour-led approach and this will be the Portintruan philosophy as well. We will be utilising a number of old-style production techniques which we believe will accentuate the depth and character of the spirit.

“A key part of the process will be using malt predominantly from our own floor maltings on-site, and we will be using direct-fired wash stills for the distillation.

“We plan to work with different phenol levels across the range, which will all have their own specific flavour profiles.”

Portintruan will be adding an experimental facility within the site making it two distilleries in one. This will enable the team to produce rum as well as Scotch whisky.

Plans for the project also include 14 houses for Islay families working at the distillery, a visitor’s centre, a bar and restaurant, a tasting room bothy overlooking the sea, and a multi-purpose educational facility which will serve as a base for an apprentice programme to train the next generation of distillers.

The Portintruan distillery aims to combine old-style production techniques with modern technology to improve process, quality and sustainability, which is one of the most important factors in Portintruan’s plans, although distillery manager Georgie Crawford recognises there is a lot of work still to be done: “Working within what is currently possible on Islay, we want to be as green and as responsible as we can.

“We are talking to the Islay Energy Trust, our fellow distillers on the island and suppliers to ensure we take all opportunities to be greener. We are using the latest technology to implement a heat loop for our water usage to ensure the maximum amount is recycled and reused with the heat recovered for other processes.

“We’re also using a bio diesel for our direct-fired stills which is the cleanest fuel we can currently source, and we’re building the distillery so that it can use hydrogen power once that is available.”

The distillery name has been announced in time for Fèis Ìle 2022, the annual festival of whisky and music on Islay which will be held in person for the first time since 2019.

The festival runs from 27 May to 4 June and is set to welcome around 10,000 whisky-loving visitors to the island.

The Elixir Distillers team will be setting up two cabins on the distillery site to welcome Islay whisky enthusiasts wishing to see Portintruan in the earliest stages of its development.

Portintruan is anticipating starting distilling from early 2024.

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