As a society, we love reviving old, beloved properties that were assumed to be dead. The Blade Runner franchise is back after 35 years. The Rams have returned to Los Angeles after a 22-year stint in St. Louis, although people in L.A. are probably more stoked on the Blade Runner thing. Turns out even long-lost distilleries can rise from the grave if you will ‘em back into being.
Diageo, the world’s biggest whisky producer and the beverage titan behind massive booze brands like Smirnoff, Johnnie Walker, Guinness and Captain Morgan recently announced that it’s pouring $46 million into the reopenings of Port Ellen and Brora, two revered Scotch distilleries that closed up shop in 1983 amid an industry slump.
Despite the fact that both brands haven’t technically produced any new Scotch since Reagan was in office, Diageo snatched them up in 2001 and has consistently put out batches of their 20- to 40-year reserves through special releases. Because such bottles routinely sell for thousands, for years, dramheads have begged Diageo to resume operations at the distilleries.
Looks like they’ll get their wish in 2020. Diageo will reinstate both Brora (on the remote eastern coast of Sutherland) and Port Ellen (on the island of Islay) to distill in “carefully controlled quantities”—800,000 liters per year—"with a meticulous attention to detail, replicating where possible the distillation regimes and spirit character of the original distilleries,” the company said in a press release.
So why now? Because there’s never been a better time to drop a dime on exceptional single-malt Scotch.
“Port Ellen and Brora are names which have a uniquely powerful resonance with whisky-lovers around the world, and the opportunity to bring these lost distilleries back to life is as rare and special as the spirit for which the distilleries are famous,” said Nick Morgan, Diageo’s head of whisky outreach. “Only a very few people will ever be able to try the original Port Ellen and Brora single malts as they become increasingly rare, so we are thrilled that we will now be able to produce new expressions of these whiskies for new generations of people to enjoy.”