Two of Scotland's most famous 'lost' distilleries to be revived by Diageo

Two "lost" Scotch whisky distilleries are set to be revived with a major investment more than 30 years after they were shut down.

Published 9th Oct 2017
Updated 21 st Sep 2023

The Port Ellen distillery on the island of Islay and the Brora distillery on the remote eastern coast of Sutherland are being brought back into production by drinks giant Diageo through a £35 million investment.

Following the closure of the sites in 1983, the whiskies produced by the two "ghost" distilleries have become some of the most highly-prized and sought-after.

The plan to reopen their doors follows demand from whisky fans to do so and reflects the strong growth in the single malt market, according to the firm.

lost distilleries

Port Ellen's rare whisky is highly sought after. Picture: PA

David Cutter, Diageo's president of global supply and procurement, said: "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."

• READ MORE: 8 of Scotland’s most famous lost whisky distilleries

The new distilleries will be among Diageo's smallest, capable of producing 800,000 litres of alcohol per year.

Bosses vowed they will replicate as closely as possible the previous taste profiles of Port Ellen and Brora, with medium peated character at both sites.

The distilleries are expected to be in production by 2020, subject to factors such as planning permission and design work.
Cask filling and traditional warehousing will also be included at both sites.

• READ MORE: Reviving spirit of Scotland’s lost generation of distilleries

Dr 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.

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"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."

• READ MORE: One of the rarest Single Malts sells for surprising price at auction

Economy Secretary Keith Brown said: "I welcome this significant investment by Diageo which will help to create employment in these rural and remote communities and is a sign of the strength and popularity of our iconic whisky industry.

"The return of these distilleries will help to act as a catalyst to draw in tourists to see where these iconic brands are produced, and to discover why they are so revered."

Scottish Secretary David Mundell said: "This is good news for one Scotland's most important industries, and some of our most remote communities.

"These ambitious new developments will create jobs, boost tourism and produce premium products to be exported around the world."

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• READ MORE: 10 of the most exciting new whisky distillery projects happening right now

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Driven by a passion for all things drinks-related, Sean writes for The Scotsman extensively on the subject. He can also sometimes be found behind the bar at the world famous Potstill bar in Glasgow where he continues to enhance his whisky knowledge built up over 10 years advising customers from all over the world on the wonders of our national drink. Recently, his first book was published. Dubbed Gin Galore, it explores Scotland's best gins and the stories behind those that make them.
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