Port Ellen Distillery: A Fabled Islay Icon Revived


Nestled on the windswept shores of Islay, the rugged Scottish island renowned for its peaty whiskies, lies Port Ellen Distillery—a name etched into the annals of whisky history. With a captivating past, silent stills, and a recent reawakening, Port Ellen has become a mythical icon cherished by whisky enthusiasts worldwide. In this article, we delve into the fascinating tale of Port Ellen Distillery, its exquisite whiskies, and the revival that has set the whisky world ablaze.

A Glimpse into History: Birth of an Islay Legend

Port Ellen Distillery’s journey began in 1825 when it was established in the eponymous village on Islay’s southern coast. Situated in the heart of Scotland’s whisky-producing region, Port Ellen quickly gained a reputation for producing exceptional single malt whiskies. It was renowned for its peated character, drawing inspiration from the island’s abundant peat bogs.

Silent Stills and Legacy

Port Ellen’s fortunes fluctuated over the years, leading to periods of closure. In 1983, the distillery fell silent, seemingly ending its storied legacy. However, the closure had an unintended consequence—whisky connoisseurs and collectors discovered the allure of Port Ellen’s remaining stocks. These silent stills became the source of some of the most coveted and collectible whiskies in the world.

Port Ellen Annual Releases: A Rarity Unveiled

As a result of the distillery’s silence, Port Ellen whiskies became increasingly scarce. Diageo, the custodian of the Port Ellen stocks, recognized the growing demand for these remarkable whiskies. In response, they launched the annual Port Ellen Releases, a highly anticipated series featuring limited editions from the remaining casks. Each bottling was a tribute to the distillery’s legacy, adding to the mystique and collectibility of Port Ellen whiskies.

Reviving a Legend: The Phoenix Rises

Amidst the whispers of whisky aficionados, the unexpected happened—Port Ellen Distillery was set to rise again. In 2017, Diageo announced plans to resurrect the iconic Islay distillery. The revival was no simple feat, with plans to retain the essence of Port Ellen’s historical production methods while incorporating modern innovations. Whisky enthusiasts rejoiced at the prospect of new expressions and the continuation of Port Ellen’s legacy.

Tasting Notes: Savoring Port Ellen Whiskies

• Port Ellen 1979 Release: A pinnacle of peaty elegance, this exceptional whisky unfolds with waves of brine, smoky oak, and hints of tropical fruits. An extraordinary balance of peat, sweetness, and maritime character makes it a cherished gem among collectors.

• Port Ellen 40-Year-Old 9 Rogue Casks: This stunning release reveals a tapestry of flavors, ranging from sea spray and bonfire smoke to luscious vanilla and citrus. Bottled at cask strength, it offers a once-in-a-lifetime tasting experience.

A Visit to the Revived Port Ellen

While the distillery’s revival is a work in progress, whisky enthusiasts can anticipate the opportunity to visit the new Port Ellen Distillery once its doors open. Set against Islay’s rugged beauty, a pilgrimage to this hallowed ground promises an unforgettable experience for whisky enthusiasts and history seekers alike.


Port Ellen Distillery remains an enigma that continues to captivate the whisky world. From its intriguing history to the allure of its rare whiskies, Port Ellen stands as a testament to the enduring legacy of Scotland’s whisky tradition. As we await the revival of this legendary Islay icon, let us raise a dram to the past and future of Port Ellen—a timeless name etched into the heart of whisky culture.