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This Historic Scotch Distillery Simply Reopened Its Doorways 40 Years After It Closed

This Historic Scotch Distillery Simply Reopened Its Doorways 40 Years After It Closed

There are several highly regarded ghost distilleries throughout Scotland, a term that refers to distilleries that were shuttered decades ago but still release whisky from barrels tucked away in warehouses throughout the country. One of the most familiar names is Port Ellen, and the whisky that once was produced there often commands astronomical prices when it’s released by parent company Diageo. This week the distillery officially reopens, and we have the details about what you can expect.

But first, a little history: Port Ellen was founded in 1825 on the island of Islay, known for its smoky whiskies. For more than 150 years, the distillery produced peated whisky, which was mostly used for blends as opposed to single malts. But in 1983, Port Ellen was shuttered due to the decreased demand for whisky at the time. In the years since, the site was used for malting barley.

That didn’t last long. As whisky fans, collectors, and aficionados discovered there were still barrels of Port Ellen whisky hidden away in warehouses around Scotland, the liquid gained in popularity—and increased in price. In 2017, parent company Diageo announced that the distillery would be rebuilt and reopened, and after seven years and a £185 million investment, that has finally come to pass.

The new Port Ellen distillery has a completely fresh design, featuring a glass stillhouse, two pairs of copper pot stills that are exact replicas of the original stills, and a set of experimental stills that will be used for smaller batch whiskies (whisky production got underway early this year). The rest of the distillery was completely modernized as well, including the roller mill, the laboratory, the spirit safe, and a sustainability effort that has made it completely carbon neutral. The team is also launching a program called Atlas of Smoke, which will use algorithmic imagery to decipher how the peat levels in the whisky respond to aging.

“We will better understand how the nuanced flavors from cask-to-cask shine in different ways, with the rolling smoke weaving its way through the heart of Port Ellen,” said master blender Aimée Morrison in a statement. “Through our bespoke algorithmic image machine we reveal today, we can learn even more about the enigma of smoke and bring people with us on this journey, from Islay to the world.”

To celebrate the reopening, Port Ellen is releasing Gemini, a set of twin decanters holding 44-year-old whisky that was produced shortly before the distillery closed. The spirit was originally aged in European oak casks before it was divided into two lots and further matured (SRP £45,000, or around $57,000). Starting in June, you can book a visit to the new Port Ellen with options ranging from shorter sessions to a daylong private experience; register your interest at the website now.

Source: Robb Report

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