Whisky Catalog by Alternative Whisky Academy

This is a whisky catalog with information about the different types of Whisky, Whiskey and Bourbon, sorted by contry.

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Port Ellen Distillery, Established 1825

Established in 1825 by the McKay family. It was operated by John Morrison & Co from 1831-34. John Ramsay and later his wife ran the distillery from 1836 until 1920, during which time they expanded the distillery. It was eventually acquired by DCL who mothballed it from 1929-67. Production buildings were then re-built by DCL and the distillery operated from 1967-83 when it was closed again during the whisky rationalisation of the 1980's. As DCL already had two other distilleries (Caol Ila and Lagavulin) Port Ellen was tragically thought to be surplus to requirements. The original distillery buildings remain, linked to the Port Ellen Maltings complex.


Port Ellen Distillery was founded around 1825. The distilling plant was silent from 1929 although the maltings and warehouses continued operating. Rebuilding began in spring of 1966 and completed in April 1967; it had 4 stills, initially heated by mechanical coal stoker, and later converted to steam heated coils. The distillery closed in 1983 and the bottled product has now become very collectable. The Excise Act in 1824 required the distillers to install a Spirit Safe, thereby effecting more control over the distillers. It was thought that the introduction of Spirit Safes might have a detrimental effect on the quality of spirit produced, and therefore it should be tried experimentally first, with Port Ellen chosen to carry out these trials.

Port Ellen Maltings first started producing malt in 1974, supplying only United Distillers own distilleries, Caol Ila, Lagavulin, and Port Ellen. The malt is produced in drums, which can be likened to very large washing machine drum; the process is automatic. The maltings now supply the majority of Islay's Distilleries with their requirements, produced to their exact specifications. Tours of the maltings are by special appointment and during the Islay Whisky Festival, and are only advised for those who are particularly interested in the technicalities. A tour is also ill advised for anyone with a fear of heights.

Port Ellen, cult whisky, distillery closed, but yet the warehouses are still there and sealed. Will the owner Diageo present a final vintage? The last bottlings were in 2000 as part of the Rare Malts and in 2003 as a Limited Edition Numbered Bottles. (2008 - The Warehouses are used by Lagavulin.)


Port Ellen banner / logo




Location : Scotland
Region : Islay, South Shore
Country : Scotland
Type : Islay malt.
Distillery :  PORT ELLEN
Port Ellen, Islay, Argyll PA42 7AJ
(Closed 1983)
Founded : 1820s and expanded in 1960
Owner : ?
Producer : United Distillers
Water : ?
Remark :

Port Ellen Warehouse (2010 photo by www.awa.dk)

Seems to be closed since 1980s.
The malt goes to to other distillers owned by United Distillers, Lagavulin and Caol Ila.

From the book : Malt Whisky - A contemporary Guide - By Mr. Graham Moore :
As the ferry approaches the pier at Port Ellen the most conspicuous sight is the huge maltings built alongside the distillery, and the most conspicuous smell that of burning peat, which pervades the entire village. Port Ellen grew up around the pier which was built to serve the distillery to which it gave its name, and quickly came to supersede Bowmore as the island's main port. Altrough it is not currently in production, Port Ellen is significant for a number of reasons.
As the time of its foundation the distillery was used by Customs and Excise to test a new innovation - the spirit safe. Its use was to become law with the introduction of the Excise Act, but it sould not be forced onto the industry without first checking that it would have no detrimental effect on the spirit. Robert Stein also carried out some of his early research work at Port Ellen, which resulted in the invention of the Patent still.
Port Ellen's history is chequered, and its founder went bankrupt within a mounts of officially starting up the business in 1825. After 11 years the licence had passed to its sixth proprietor. John Ramsay was a Glasgow sherry importer and became one of the earliest pioneers in the export of Scotch whisky to the USA, spipping directly from the distillery. He also inaugurated the first passenger ferry between Glasgow and Islay (which ran once every two weeks), and became a major landowner in the southern area of the island, constributing greatly to the farming community. By 1930 the distillery was subsidiary of DCL, which closed it down at the onset of the Depression. For the next 37 years it was used only for malting and warehousing, a fate it still endures except for a brief revival from 1967 to 1984.
By the early 1970's it was obvious that the three DCL distilleries on Islay were producing between them only a third of their total malt requirements, and so the decision was made to build a centralised maltings alongside the distillery at Port Ellen. The new facility opened in 1973 and now supplies all the working distilleries on Islay and Jura. It is a drum maltings, each of the seven drums holding 46 tons of barley. Germination takes five days, after which the green malt is dried in one of three kilns. The size of the charge means that kilning takes about 30 hours, twice as long as in an average drum maltings on the mainland. A combination of peat smoke and hot air is used to dry the grain and the exact amount of peating given depends on the distillery at which the malt will be used. Lagavulin, for instance, uses heavily peated malt yet surprisingly there is one distillery on Islay for which the malt is not peated at all.
Her Majesty the Queen visited the maltings on 11 August 1980 and a special bottling of Port Ellen whisky was made to mark the occasion. Other than this, Port Ellen is only available from independent bottlers, but its single malt is typical of Islay's south coast and well worth trying should the chance present itself. The distillery is closed and unlikely to go back into production, although the warehouses are being used by Lagavulin.

Source www.bbr.com :


 Port Ellen Distillery, Islay

Port Ellen Distillery was founded in the 1820s by A.K. Mackay, who, following bankruptcy, surrendered the ownership to John Ramsey, the Liberal MP for Stirling and chairman of Glasgow Chamber of Commerce. John Ramsey was also a leading whisky making figure of his day, and he succeeded in making Port Ellen the first distillery to export its single malt to the United States.

In 1925 the distillery was acquired by DCL and closed down, although it re-open after an extensive modernisation programme in 1967 under the management of Low Robertson of Edinburgh. In 1983 the distillery ceased production and despite the growing demand for Islay whisky, there has been no talk of its reopening.

This is a signature Islay malt, distinguished by its profound peaty, smoke and iodine character, although it is gentler, more spicy and clean than the likes of Laphroaig.


Port Ellen 1975, 23yo, Cask Strength, Hart Brothers, 52.5% ABV.

Port Ellen CC , Islay 1982 70CL 40,00 1275.00 hos Juuls Vinhandel
Port Ellen Cask 1979 70CL 60,70 1975.00 hos Juuls Vinhandel
Port Ellen Cask 1979 35CL 60,70 1125.00 hos Juuls Vinhandel
Port Ellen, An. Rele 1979 70CL 56,20 2350.00 hos Juuls Vinhandel
Port Ellen Sig. 24y. Butt no 6772 - 776 btl. 1979 70CL 43,00 895.00 hos Juuls Vinhandel
Port Ellen Sig. 24y. Butt no.6771 572 btl. 1979 70CL 43,00 895.00 hos Juuls Vinhandel
Port Ellen Raw Cask 21y. Blackadder - Sherry Butt 1982 70CL 62,70 1350.00 hos Juuls Vinhandel
Port Ellen OMC, Islay 1982 70CL 995.00 hos Juuls Vinhandel

The Port Ellen bottle.

No records found.

Port Ellen