Drinks giant Diageo said Port Ellen on Islay and Brora in Sutherland, two of the most revered “lost” distilleries, are to be brought back to life in a statement of confidence in the future of Scotch whisky.
The distilleries, closed in 1983, will be brought back into production through a £35 million investment by Diageo.
In the 34 years since Brora and Port Ellen were closed, their products have become some of the most highly prized and sought after whiskies in the world.
The new Brora and Port Ellen distilleries 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.
Subject to planning permission and regulatory consents, detailed design, construction and commissioning work, it is expected the distilleries will be in production by 2020.
Whisky fans around the world have called on Diageo to reopen the closed distilleries.
“The decision is partly a response to those demands from existing enthusiasts but it also reflects the strong growth in the single malt Scotch market and the opportunity to create new generations of whisky consumers,” said Diageo.
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.
“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.
“Scotch whisky is Scotland’s gift to the world and the rebirth of these distilleries is a great gift to malt whisky lovers everywhere.”
David Cutter, Diageo President of Global Supply & 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.”
Cristina Diezhandino, Diageo’s global Scotch Category Director, said: “Brora and Port Ellen are rightly revered around the world for their rarity and exceptional quality.
“Everything we do with these distilleries and brands will remain true to these values.
“It is thrilling that, as the spirit from the original distilleries becomes vanishingly rare, our distillers at Brora and Port Ellen will be carefully crafting new whiskies to delight and inspire new generations of Scotch lovers around the world.”