Diageo will invest £35 million to reopen two Scottish whisky distilleries as it responds to the strong growth of the single malt Scotch market.
Port Ellen and Brora, which Diageo described as ‘two of the most revered lost distilleries in the global spirits industry’, will reopen 34 years after they closed their doors.
Whisky fans globally have been calling on the company to reopen the facilities and Diageo said the decision also reflects an opportunity to create a new generation of whisky consumers.
Port Ellen distillery, on the whisky island of Islay, and Brora, on the remote eastern coast of Sutherland, will both be reinstated to distil in carefully controlled quantities, replicating the distillation regimes and character of the original distilleries. Cask filling and traditional warehousing will also be included at both sites.
The distilleries will also have dedicated brand homes to welcome guests and they are expected to become iconic attractions in the Scottish tourism landscape, attracting whisky fans from around the globe.
This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to bring these iconic distilleries back to life
Diageo’s head of whisky outreach Nick Morgan, who played an instrumental role in building the reputation of Port Ellen and Brora whiskies through the Diageo Special Releases programme, announced the plans on behalf of the company.
“This is a truly exceptional moment in Scotch whisky,” he said. “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.”
Diageo president of global supply and procurement David Cutter 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 new Brora and Port Ellen sites will be among Diageo’s smallest distilleries, capable of producing 800,000 litres of alcohol per year. They will replicate as closely as possible the previous taste profiles of Port Ellen and Brora, with medium peated character at both sites.
Subject to planning permission and regulatory consents, it is expected the distilleries will be in production by 2020.
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