The Port Ellen distillery was located in Port Ellen on the isle of Islay, Scotland. Port Ellen was established as a malt mill in 1825, and then developed as a distillery under John Ramsay from 1833 to 1892. The warehouses he built still exist and are now listed buildings. The distillery was acquired by the Distillers Company Limited in 1925, was closed in 1930 and rebuilt in 1966/1967. It continued in production throughout the 1970s and was closed in 1983, although supplies of its single malt whisky are still available. The distillery houses a malting which continues to supply all Islay distilleries, as per an agreement signed in 1987. The dwindling stocks of Port Ellen whisky are now owned by Diageo; due to the closing of the distillery, its whisky is a collector’s item.
On 9 October 2017, Diageo announced that the Distillery will reopen in 2020, following a £35 million investment in re-opening both Port Ellen and also their closed Brora (aka Clynelish) distillery. Diageo have suggested the first new release might be a 12 year old expression, i.e. in 2032, but have left the door open for possibly earlier releases.
When Port Ellen was closed in 1983, Diageo did not just 'mothball' the distillery, leaving all the equipment there in place. Instead, they knocked down some of the buildings, repurposed others, and destroyed the precious stills. Diageo say they are going to considerable efforts to recreate as similar as possible new stills, and point to factory records from the 1980s, and still having former Port Ellen employees working for them elsewhere on Islay to assist in an accurate recreation of the Port Ellen style.
On 8 May 2019, Diageo submitted plans to revive the distillery, and to build a new stillhouse. The move is part of a £35 million investment programme to also reopen Brora Distillery in Sutherland, which also closed in 1983.