The Scotch whisky market plummeted in the ’80s. Many distilleries closed, including Port Ellen on Islay, and the Highland producer Brora. Since then, both distilleries have become highly popular among collectors, with their vintage bottles fetching prices in the thousands.
Scotch-lovers may soon taste something new from these legendary, long-shuttered producers. The global drinks corporation Diageo announced this weekend plans to reopen both distilleries. The project will require a $46.02 million investment.
Diageo is the world’s leading Scotch producer and owns numerous distilleries — including Port Ellen and Brora. Plans to revive the closed producers owe to the cult-like status the two have garnered in the years since 1983. Vintage Scotch from Port Ellen and Brora is considered among the best in the world.
And the world has changed since 1983: now, Scotch is booming. The time was right, says Diageo executives.
“This is no ordinary Scotch whisky distillery investment. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to bring these iconic distilleries back to life,” says David Cutter, Diageo president of global supply and procurement, who is responsible for leading the capital investment programme to reinstate the distilleries. “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 distilleries will be among Diageo’s smallest distilleries, capable of producing 800,000 litres of alcohol per year, the company says in a press release. 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, detailed design, construction and commissioning work, it is expected the distilleries will be in production by 2020.