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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  16 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 43 %
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       1 9 9 2         INFO                 
Over  25 years old 40 %
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                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            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 te Dumfries en Glasgow, die op zijn beurt de gebouwen onderverhuurde aan John Morrison en zijn compagnons George MacLennon en Patrick Thomson.
Alexander Kerr stierf 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 familielid Morrison om uit te zoeken wat er mis was.
Eben Ramsay liet niets van zich horen en toen stuurde Ebenezer Ramsay zijn jongste zoon John Ramsay naar Port Ellen.
John Ramsay wist Ebenezer Ramsay te overtuigen, dat de distilleerderij onder goede leiding een kans had.
Morrison werd overgeplaatst naar het kantoor in Glasgow om de verkopen te behartiggen, en John Ramsay tijdelijk bijgestaan door zijn broer Thomas behartigde de zaken te Port Ellen.
John Morrison voldeed ook niet te Glasgow en Thomas 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 was Alexander 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 de Cornabus 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 van sherry, port en madeira.
Te Port Ellen werd ook de 'Spirit Safe' verfijnd, uitgevonden door Septimes Fox en geac-cepteerd door de dienst van accijnzen, na de 'Act of 1823'.
Ramsay groeide uit tot de belangrijkste landbouwdeskundige op Islay, en publiceerde over dit onderwerp regelmatig in de Glasgow Herald.
Landeigenaar Walter Frederick Campbell ging bankroet in 1854 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 de Johnston'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 Schotse whiskyindustrie, 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 leiding ging 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's achterneef 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 zoon Iain Ramsay, nam Port Ellen over, maar omdat zijn zuster Lucy, 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 Ramsay keerde 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 Amerika was er de drooglegging, van oudsher een heel belangrijke markt voor Port Ellen.
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 van Port Ellen door hun overgenomen in 1920.
De naam werd Port Ellen Distillery Co, Ltd.
Na de fusie tussen Buchanan - Dewar in 1925 met de Distillers Company Ltd (D.C.L). ende onderneming werd 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 Ellen onderdeel 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, 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 Brands worden maar op 22 October werd bekend dat de naam Diageo 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 whiskymerk Dewar's en het ginmerk Bombay voor E 1,15 miljard aan Bacardi Martini. Het afstoten van de twee merken was een voorwaarde die door de Amerikaanse mededingingsautoriteiten 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 Re-leases 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 Loch en 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 to Scottish 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 spcial 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. After 1986 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 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.


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 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.

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
OWNERS

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 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.

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
OWNERS

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 DISTILLERY


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 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.

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
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

THE RESURRECTION OF PORT ELLEN AND BRORA
09 October 2017
The shock news that cult distilleries Port Ellen and Brora are being brought back into production has reverberated around the whisky world. Richard Woodard delves more deeply into ‘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 Ellen and 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 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

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.

Port Ellen distillery

As it was: 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 Morgan hypothesises 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 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’ Brora or 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.

Brora 1972

Collector’s item: This 1972 Brora sold for HK$147,000 at auction in Hong Kong in May

‘You don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater,’ he says. ‘Our feeling is that the reputation, the value of the existing, diminishing stocks from the two old distilleries will actually only increase.’

What does Beach think? ‘I don’t know,’ he says. ‘I think these whiskies are so good they’ll always be wanted, you know – especially some of the old Broras and Port Ellens from the early ’70s. Anyway, it’s a long way away still. Time will tell.’

Whatever the future holds, we shouldn’t necessarily expect a line of more ‘ghost’ distilleries queuing up to be revivified any time soon. As well as their lofty status, Port Ellen and Brora have the continued existence of their sites to thank for their new lease of life; many other ‘lost’ distilleries are exactly that – their buildings bulldozed, their land reclaimed for alternative uses.

Things change in whisky. It’s worth remembering that, assuming spirit is running from the stills on schedule, this will be the second time in a century that Port Ellen has been out of production for 37 years (it was also silent between 1930 and 1967).

The last time that production restarted at the site, it was only 16 years before the stills fell silent again. Happily, the prospects now are altogether brighter, thanks to a booming single malt market – and the fact that the reputation of these two distilleries has expanded beyond all recognition over the past 34 years.

JON BEACH, PORT ELLEN
08 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 MacRaild about Port Ellen myths, its ever-climbing prices – and how he was ‘trapped’ into collecting its single malts in the first place.

Jon Beach
Lowly barkeep: Jon Beach at the Fiddler's Inn on the shores of Loch Ness (Photo: Marcel van Gils)
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 Millburn distillery whilst it was still producing, so I always stocked Millburn single malt alongside the other Inverness malts 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.’

Frank Clark and Dick Beach

Role models: Frank Clark of the Cairngorm Whisky Centre and Dick Beach, Jon’s father (Photo: Marcel van Gils)

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.’

Port Ellen cask end light fixture

Light work: Jon Beach’s Port Ellen cask end, signed by those on the 2015 Islay Odyssey

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.’

Port Ellen, Rosebank and portrait

Works of art: Empty Port Ellen and Rosebank bottles in front of their portrait

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 that Scotch 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 the Dornoch 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 Ellen last year on the Islay Odyssey...’
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