The Lost Distilleries

Find out about the development of the newest Islay distillery

So Bruichladdich opened last Spring (that was a great event), and Kilchoman will add an 8th operating distillery by 2003, but did you know that Islay has lost more than 12 distilleries other than the fabled Port Ellen. We're working with a researcher to find out all we can about this early 19th Century tragedy as many small farm-scale distilleries disappeared (although their remains are in most cases still visible). If you have information about the ones we're still a bit patchy on, Ballygrant, Freeport, Glenavullen, Octovullin and Upper Cragabus please mail us at [email protected] to help us verify what happened at these sites.

Click on the map below to see the locations - and we will develop this page with the history of the lost distilleries of Islay to keep you informed!

Our previous Port Ellen background follows.

Unfortunately for the whisky drinker Port Ellen is no longer in production.

Port Ellen, established in the 1820s, had the distinction of being managed for many years from the 1830s by one of the most dynamic figures in the industry at that time - John Ramsay. He assisted Aeneas Coffey and Robert Stein in their development of the Patent Still for the manufacture of grain whisky, on which much research was undertaken at Port Ellen Distillery and he was the force behind refinement of the now standard spirit safe which had been invented by Septimus Fox in the 1820s. He was also instrumental in introducing the first regular Islay-Glasgow cargo and passenger steamer service.

lost distilleriesFamous for its towering 30-metre high maltings erected in 1973, the Distillery now lies silent, a victim of downsizing in 1983. With unemployment in Port Ellen then running at 20 percent, Port Ellen's closure was felt very keenly throughout its small community.

The massive maltings behind the Distillery, however, continue to supply malt to several of the island's distilleries.

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