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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


Distillery Owner


Distillery Status


Distillery Address

Port Ellen, Islay, Argyll


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.


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


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


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


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


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


Buchanan-Dewar joins Distillers Company Limited (DCL).


No production.


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


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


A large drum maltings is installed.


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


The distillery is mothballed.


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


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


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


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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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
Saying that Port Ellen whisky is sought-after is like saying jam is pretty good on toast - a massive understatement! The distillery on Islay closed in 1983, to the disappointment of many who loved...  More info
User Rating:  (2 Reviews)
Immensely rare and collectible (not to mention delicious), Port Ellen single malt is legendary amongst whisky enthusiasts. The distillery on Islay was closed in the 1980s and has remained as such ever...  More info
32 year old single malt Scotch whisky from the legendary (sadly closed) Port Ellen distillery on the Isle of Islay. It was distilled in October 1982, the year before the distillery was mothballed, and...  More info

Ah, Port Ellen, how we love you. And by 'we' I don't just mean us at MoM towers, whisky fans around the world adore this legendary malt from an Islay distillery that shut...  More info
Do you happen to like exciting things? Well, here's a treat for you then - an independent bottling of Port Ellen single malt Scotch whisky. The Islay distillery sadly closed in the 1980s, but releases...  More info
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
An independently bottled single malt Scotch whisky from the legendary Port Ellen distillery on the Island of Islay. It was distilled in June 1982 and bottled in March 2014 for the Mackillop's Choice...  More info
This is a classic Rare Malts bottling of single malt Scotch whisky from the infamous, though sadly closed, Port Ellen distillery on Islay. Matured for 20 years after being distilled in 1978, it was...  More info
User Rating:  (1 Review)
An independently bottled single malt from one of the most famous closed Scottish distilleries - the Port Ellen distillery on the island of Islay. It was distilled in October 1982 and matured in a...  More info
A Directors' Cut bottling from Douglas Laing of Port Ellen single malt. Yes, that Port Ellen, the one on Islay that was closed in the '80s and has remained closed ever since. Their stocks of superbly...  More info
It's here. Phone people. Write letters. Open up windows and shout at things. Let the things know that it's here. But what is it? Batch 5 of Port Ellen single malt Scotch whisky, bottled by That...  More info
User Rating:  (4 Reviews)
Strictly 1 Per Customer

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...  More info
Port Ellen alert! Port Ellen alert! That's right, we've got a Gordon & MacPhail bottling of single malt from the closed distillery on Islay, distilled in 1979, matured in refill Sherry butts and...  More info
To say bottlings of Port Ellen are sought after is just a bit of an understatement. While the distillery remains silent, and has done since 1983, releases like this rare Gordon & MacPahil Connoisseurs...  More info
This is a single cask bottling of Port Ellen single malt Scotch whisky, matured in a refill butt from February 1983 until September 2010. Part of the Single Malts of Scotland range of independent...  More info
Ah, looky! I'd better go and open this window here so I can shout out of it that we have a new sooty, leathery Port Ellen from Douglas Laing in stock. They'll probably all be gone by the time I turn...  More info
Douglas Laing properly go for it with their Old and Rare Platinum range, picking only the most ridiculously desirable whiskies to join the impressive selection. Speaking of ridiculously desirable, how...  More info
This single malt from the closed distillery of Port Ellen distilled in 1997 and bottled in 2012 for Douglas Laing's Old & Rare collection.  More info
This is a fabulous old Port Ellen from Douglas Laing's stellar Old and Rare Platinum Selection. It was distilled in August 1977, some six years before the distillery shut its doors for good, and the...  More info
User Rating:  (1 Review)

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
Distilled at Port Ellen distillery on Islay in 1982, this Old Bothwell single cask release comes from one of the most sought after distilleries of all time.

When Diageo sought to shut down one of...  More info
This is the second batch of the utterly beguiling Port Ellen from That Boutique-y Whisky Company. It's a rich, smouldering, citrusy gem from what is perhaps Scotland's most legendary distillery, and...  More info
This is a previous Gordon & MacPhail bottling of Port Ellen. The Port Ellen distillery closed in 1983 and today only the maltings remain in use. This Port Ellen was bottled in 2001 and offers a rare...  More info
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