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Port Ellen

Distillery Logo

Image Credit:



Alexander McDonald
*Distillery Manager


Closed (Re-opening 2023)

Barrel Head


Barrel Head

head whisky maker(s)

Barrel Head


Barrel Head

Year Founded

Barrel Head


Port Ellen Distillery, nestled on the captivating Isle of Islay, boasts a storied history marked by resilience and revival. Established in 1825 by Alexander Ker Mackay, a visionary entrepreneur, Port Ellen Distillery faced initial challenges. Ownership changed hands multiple times during its early years. In 1836, John Ramsay, a 21-year-old with distilling lineage, took over the distillery's lease. Under Ramsay's leadership, Port Ellen began to thrive, earning acclaim for its exceptional whisky. Ramsay modernized operations and expanded production capacity. The early 20th century brought economic instability and U.S. Prohibition, impacting the global demand for Scotch whisky. In 1930, the distillery ceased production and lay dormant for 37 years.

In 1967, the Distillers Company Limited (DCL), later part of Diageo, acquired Port Ellen Distillery. Production resumed, accompanied by significant modernization efforts. Port Ellen also supplied malt to other Islay distilleries. The 1980s whisky industry downturn hit Islay hard. Port Ellen, like many others, faced closure in 1983. However, its maltings continued operations thanks to a cooperative agreement among Islay's distilleries. Despite its closure, Port Ellen's whiskies gained a cult following. Bottles became rare and highly sought after by collectors and connoisseurs.

Port Ellen's whiskies are renowned for their elegant complexity, harmonious peat and fruit balance, and distinctive maritime character. Bottlings from its limited stock, including the Annual Releases, are highly coveted for their rarity and quality.

In 2017, Diageo announced plans to revive Port Ellen Distillery, investing £35 million into the project. Whisky enthusiasts eagerly await the release of new Port Ellen expressions. Production is set to resume in 2023, with new whiskies expected by 2030.

-Written (Mostly) by Robots-

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