Port Ellen Distillery


Port Ellen Distillery
Port Ellen
Islay, Scotland
United Kingdom

Status: Closed & redeveloped

Established: 1825

Visitor Policy: Not generally accessible

Tel: Not supplied

This famous Islay malt whisky distillery was silent from 1929 until reopening in 1966, but was finally closed for good in 1983.

Port Ellen is a harbour town on Islay’s south coast, which is named after the wife of its founder - Frederick Campbell of Islay. The distillery was first established in 1825 by A. K. Mackay but he went bankrupt soon after and Port Ellen was taken over by John Ramsey (Liberal MP for Stirling).

Ramsey was one the key players in building Scotch whisky exports to America and in 1848 he secured the right to export whisky in larger casks and to store it in bonded duty free warehouses prior to export. This system endures to this day, as do the warehouses he built, which are now listed buildings.

In 1925, the distillery was acquired by Distillers Company Limited who mothballed it in 1929 with the onset of the economic depression of 1930. Port Ellen eventually reopened after an extensive modernisation in 1967 when it was licensed to Low Robertson & Co Ltd of Edinburgh. In 1983 the distillery finally closed and the production buildings were demolished and a light industrial park now occupies the site. However, the distillery’s large malting houses remain in operation, now supplying the majority of the remaining distilleries on Islay.