Port Ellen Islay Whisky Distillery
One of the original Islay Distilleries just 1 mile from the more famous Laphroig distillery Port Ellen was founded by Alexander MacKay in 1825 however, this went bust quickly afterwards. It remained under the Mackay families control until John Ramsey took control in 1836. John Ramsey is an important character in the history of Islay and Scottish Whisky he ensured Port Ellen was the first distillery to trade with North America (an important customer) in 1848 and was also the first to have the right to export large casks and keep them in bonded warehouses until they could be exported, this remains the system 150 years later. He also installed a Septimus Fox spirit safe into the distillation process at Port Ellen and again was reportedly first to do it. Whisky was not John Ramsey’s only business interest and he was involved in a great number of activities including being the Member of Parliament for Stirling, chairman of Glasgow Chamber of Commerce, assisting in the establishment of a steam boat service between Glasgow and Islay (surely some self-interest here) all while aiding Aeneas Coffee and Robert Stein run Port Ellen whisky distillery.
Once John Ramsay passed away the distillery remained with his family however they sold up to DCL in 1925 who promptly closed Port Ellen 4 years later. The floor maltings and bonded warehouses remained in use by DCL and eventually they re-opened the Port Ellen in 1966. DCL also built large drum maltings in 1973 which supply most Islay whisky distilleries to this day.
Unfortunately Port Ellen was mothballed in 1983 and as a result the single malt scotch whisky produced over that period has gained in value. Diageo released a Port Ellen single malt scotch whisky as part of their Rare Malt series and these already reach values upwards of £300 as stocks of Port Ellen reduce all the time. There are also rare independent bottlings fetching upwards of £500. The value of whisky from Port Ellen during this period is only set to grow.
Taste: Although smoke is evident it is not as pronounced as its southern Islay neighbours. A complex scotch with iodine, pepper and clean crisp finish.