List of products by brand Port Ellen Distillery

As the ferry approaches the pier at Port Ellen the most conspicuous sight is the huge maltings built alongside the distillery, and the most conspicuous smell that of burning peat, which pervades the entire village. Port Ellen grew up around the pier which was built to serve the distillery to which it gave its name, and quickly came to supersede Bowmore as the island's main port. Altrough it is not currently in production, Port Ellen is significant for a number of reasons. As the time of its foundation the distillery was used by Customs and Excise to test a new innovation - the spirit safe. Its use was to become law with the introduction of the Excise Act, but it should not be forced onto the industry without first checking that it would have no detrimental effect on the spirit. Robert Stein also carried out some of his early research work at Port Ellen, which resulted in the invention of the Patent still.

Port Ellen's history is chequered, and its founder went bankrupt within a mounts of officially starting up the business in 1825. After 11 years the licence had passed to its sixth proprietor. John Ramsay was a Glasgow sherry importer and became one of the earliest pioneers in the export of Scotch whisky to the USA, spipping directly from the distillery. He also inaugurated the first passenger ferry between Glasgow and Islay: and became a major landowner in the southern area of the island, constributing greatly to the farming community. By 1930 the distillery was subsidiary of DCL, which closed it down at the onset of the Depression. For the next 37 years it was used only for malting and warehousing, a fate it still endures except for a brief revival from 1967 to 1984. By the early 1970's it was obvious that the three DCL distilleries on Islay were producing between them only a third of their total malt requirements, and so the decision was made to build a centralised maltings alongside the distillery at Port Ellen. The new facility opened in 1973 and now supplies all the working distilleries on Islay and Jura. It is a drum maltings, each of the seven drums holding 46 tons of barley. Germination takes five days, after which the green malt is dried in one of three kilns. The size of the charge means that kilning takes about 30 hours, twice as long as in an average drum maltings on the mainland. A combination of peat smoke and hot air is used to dry the grain and the exact amount of peating given depends on the distillery at which the malt will be used. Lagavulin, for instance, uses heavily peated malt yet surprisingly there is one distillery on Islay for which the malt is not peated at all. Her Majesty the Queen visited the maltings on 11 August 1980 and a special bottling of Port Ellen whisky was made to mark the occasion. Other than this, Port Ellen is only available from independent bottlers, but its single malt is typical of Islay's south coast and well worth trying should the chance present itself. The distillery is closed and unlikely to go back into production, although the warehouses are being used by Lagavulin.

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