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Port Ellen

The Port Ellen distillery was founded in 1825 by Alexander Ker Mackay. The distillery lies not far from the centre of its namesake town, Islay’s main port, and draws its waters from the Leorin Lochs. John Ramsay, a local Member of Parliament, acquired the distillery after Mackay went into bankruptcy. Ramsay was a leader in his field and recognised the opportunities that exportation to America could offer.

The Port Ellen whisky distillery remained in Ramsay family hands until 1920, when John Dewar & Sons and James Buchanan & Co purchased it, merging with Distillers Company Limited five years later. In 1930, the Port Ellen distillery was transferred to Scottish Malt Distillers. The distillery had ceased whisky production a year prior, but continued to malt barley. Indeed, to this day the maltings at Port Ellen supply most of the distilleries on Islay as well as the Isle of Jura distillery.

A new maltings was installed in 1973, a few years after the distillery reopened in 1966. In 1967, further stills were installed and the distillery underwent extensive renovations. During the 1980s the Scotch whisky market became saturated and, regrettably, Port Ellen did not survive - the stills fell silent in May of 1983. There have been both independent releases as well as a handful of official bottlings.

Port Ellen Whisky Distillery

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About Port Ellen Whisky Distillery

Distillery Founded

1825

Distillery Owner

Diageo

Distillery Status

Dismantled

Distillery Address

Port Ellen, Islay, Argyll

1825

Alexander Kerr Mackay assisted by Walter Campbell founds the distillery. Mackay runs into financial troubles after a few months and his three relatives John Morrison, Patrick Thomson and George Maclennan take over.

1833

John Ramsay, a cousin to John Morrison, comes from Glasgow to take over.

1836

Ramsay is granted a lease on the distillery from the Laird of Islay.

1892

Ramsay dies and the distillery is inherited by his widow, Lucy.

1906

Lucy Ramsay dies and her son Captain Iain Ramsay takes over.

1920

Iain Ramsay sells to Buchanan-Dewar who transfers the administration to the company Port Ellen Distillery Co. Ltd.

1925

Buchanan-Dewar joins Distillers Company Limited (DCL).

1929

No production.

1930

Administration is transferred to Scottish Malt Distillers (SMD) and the distillery is mothballed.

1967

In production again after reconstruction and doubling of the number of stills from two to four.

1973

A large drum maltings is installed.

1980

Queen Elisabeth visits the distillery and a commemorative special bottling is made.

1983

The distillery is mothballed.

1987

The distillery closes permanently but the maltings continue to deliver malt to all Islay distilleries.

1998

Port Ellen 1978 (20 years) is released as a Rare Malt.

2000

Port Ellen 1978 (22 years) is released as a Rare Malt.

2001

Port Ellen cask strength first edition is released.

Reproduced from the Malt Whisky Yearbook 2009 with the kind permission of Mr Ingvar Ronde

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Boom! Batch 4 of That Boutique-y Whisky Company's Port Ellen has landed!

After closing its doors in 1983 Port Ellen has become perhaps the most legendary whisky...  More info
A single cask Port Ellen from the Port Ellen distillery in the town of Port Ellen. This 30 year old single cask release was matured in a refill hogshead, which yielded just 94 precious bottles. Part...  More info
$898.20
A rare 30 year old bottling from the Douglas Laing 'Old Malt Cask' range.  More info
A very mature, 27 year old Port Ellen. Perhaps the most legendary distilleries of them all, though now defunct. Just 396 bottles of this were released, a very rare Douglas Laing bottling. Serge from...  More info
A cask strength, very rare Port Ellen. This was distilled in 1978 and matured for 22 years before bottling as part of the Rare Malts range.  More info
A single cask Port Ellen! This was distilled on the 2nd March 1983 and matured for 26 years in a wine treated butt, which was cask number 232, before bottling on the 10th November 2009. A release of...  More info
A Hunter Laing bottling of single malt Scotch whisky from one of the most renowned closed distilleries in Scotland - Port Ellen. Distilled at the Islay distillery in September 1978 and aged in a...  More info
$2066.66
24 year old single malt Scotch whisky from the legendary Port Ellen distillery, which sadly has been closed since 1983. This Islay whisky was distilled in March 1978, matured in a single Sherry butt...  More info
$923.15
Part of the 2014 Diageo Special Releases, this 35 year old Port Ellen single malt Scotch whisky was matured in a combination of refill American oak and European oak casks. A regular of the Special...  More info
A very rare, hotly anticipated Port Ellen. This is from the slew of Diageo 2009 Special Releases, this is the 9th release, distilled in 1979 and bottled at cask strength (part of an outturn of 5,916...  More info
An amazing single cask Port Ellen, the legendary defunct Islay distillery. This was distilled in November 1979 and aged for a massive 30 years before bottling by Douglas Laing in August 2010. A...  More info
User Rating:  Rating (3.5/5)
A complex, rich single malt, bottled by Gordon and MacPhail. Port Ellen has become a legendary distillery, known for its stunning peaty flavours.  More info
$225.73
This stunning Port Ellen was distilled on the 2nd of February 1983 (just a few months before the distillery closed for good) and was aged in wine treated butt number 231 for 27 years before bottling...  More info
27 year old Port Ellen distilled in 1982. This is rare whisky, aged in Bourbon casks and finished in ChÔteau D'Yquem sauternes barrels. This was bottled at the Bruichladdich distillery in 2009, and is...  More info
User Rating:  Rating (4.5/5)
This was distilled not long before the Port Ellen distillery closed for good. Bottled in August 2009 by Douglas Laing, there are 610 bottles of this, from refill butt number 5441.  More info
A 27 year old, single cask Port Ellen, need we say more? Well, just in case we'll add that it was distilled in Spring 1983 (just before the legendary distillery closed for good) and was bottled in...  More info
User Rating:  Rating (4.5/5)
A stunning 26 year old from the Port Ellen distillery - one of the most legendary distilleries in the world. This was distilled in February 1982 and aged for 26 years in sherry butt number 4447 before...  More info
A 20cl Advance Sample from Douglas Laing. This was distilled at the Port Ellen distillery in November 1982 and aged for 25 years in sherry butt number 4673. It was bottled in September 2008.  More info
Highly anticipated release from Diageo's now defunct Port Ellen distillery. In our humble opinion, perhaps not quite as good as last year's release, but nevertheless still quite special, and will sell...  More info
A 27 year old Port Ellen bottled under the Old Malt Cask label from Douglas Laing. It won't be around for ever, Port Ellen. And you'll miss it when it's gone so you will.  More info
A fabulous cask strength Port Ellen aged in a single refill butt (cask 517) for a whopping 27 years. Bottling on the 28th September 2010 by Signatory. A release of 608 bottles.  More info
This stunning Port Ellen was distilled on the 2nd of February 1983 (just a few months before the distillery closed for good) and was aged in wine treated butt number 231 for 27 years before bottling...  More info
A 26 year old from perhaps Islay's most legendary distillery, Port Ellen. This was distilled in Spring 1983 (just a few months before the distillery was shut down permenantly), and it was aged in...  More info
A 27 year old Port Ellen from a single cask! This was distilled in the Winter 1983 and aged in cask 6000 (a refill hogshead) before bottling in Spring 2010 for the Provenance range.  More info
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