Port Ellen has become one of the most famed and highly sought Scottish whiskies. Much of this comes from the fact that the distillery has not produced spirits since 1983. Many experts say the whisky produced by Port Ellen prior to it’s closure are the best Islay malts from that time period. Stocks of this highly regarded spirit are starting to dwindle and prices have reacted accordingly. Collectors can be quite certain that these bottles will only continue to appreciate.
The distillery was originally established as a malt mill in 1825. Eventually the mill developed into a full blown distillery in 1833 and continued operating as such until 1892. The warehouses originally built still exist and are used in other capacities. Production of Port Ellen whisky continued sporadically until it was officially closed in 1983. The distillery houses a malting which continues to supply all Islay distilleries.
During the development of the distillery, Port Ellen was regarded as one of the most innovative. It is reputed as being the first distillery to have incorporated Septimus Fox’s spirit safe design into the distillation process. (This process made it easier to control the quality of spirits during distillation) It also became the first distillery to trade with North America. The founder of Port Ellen is even credited with starting the use of bonded warehouses, a system that continues in use today.
Amidst all of innovations and popularity, Port Ellen could not survive the downturn of the 1980s. It closed it’s doors with remaining stock being purchased be Diageo. Diageo began annual official releases of the remaining Port Ellen inventory in 2001. If you can land a bottle of Port Ellen, you won’t be disappointed!