Diageo to reopen Port Ellen and Brora distilleries

Two iconic Scotch whisky distilleries are to be brought out of mothballs in a £35 million investment by Diageo.

Port Ellen and Brora closed in 1983, since when their whiskies have become among the most sought after in Scotch, with cult status among whisky enthusiasts and collectors.

Port Ellen, on Islay, and Brora, on the eastern coast of Sutherland, will distil in “carefully controlled quantities”, said Diageo, replicating where possible the production regimes and spirit character of the original distilleries.

Cask filling and warehousing will also be on-site and they will have “brand homes” to attract tourists.

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.

“Scotch whisky is Scotland’s gift to the world and the rebirth of these distilleries is a great gift to malt whisky lovers everywhere.”

David Cutter, Diageo’s president of global supply and procurement, added: “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.”

The distilleries are expected to be in production by 2020.