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Just over six months after breaking ground, and after much speculation, Elixir Distillers has confirmed its new Islay distillery will be called Portintruan.
Located just outside the town of Port Ellen on Islay’s south coast on the way to Laphroaig, Lagavulin and Ardbeg distilleries, Portintruan is pronounced Port-nah-truan. It takes its name from the historic farm estate where the distillery is located and means ‘place of the stream’.
Portintruan will be adding an experimental distillery within the site – so it will be two distilleries in one. This will enable the team to produce not only different Scotch whisky styles but also rum.
Plans for the distillery site also include 14 houses for Islay families working at the distillery, a visitor’s centre, a bar and restaurant, a tasting room bothy overlooking the sea, and a multi-purpose educational facility, which will serve as a base for an apprentice programme to train the next generation of distillers.
Work on the site is well under way, with ground works complete and work on the foundations about to start, followed by the steel work. Portintruan is anticipating it will begin distilling from early 2024.
‘Portintruan will be where the past meets the future,’ Elixir said: ‘combining old-style production techniques with modern technology.’
Explaining his vision, co-owner Sukhinder Singh said: ‘We will be utilising a number of old-style production techniques which we believe will accentuate the depth and character of the spirit. A key part of the process will be using malt predominantly from our own floor maltings on-site, and we will be using direct-fired wash stills for the distillation.’
Sustainability is one of the most important factors in Portintruan’s plans, said distillery manager Georgie Crawford: ‘Working within what is currently possible on Islay, we want to be as green and as responsible as we can. We are talking to the Islay Energy Trust, our fellow distillers on the island and suppliers to ensure we take all opportunities to be greener.
‘We are using the latest technology to implement a heat loop for our water usage to ensure the maximum amount is recycled and reused with the heat recovered for other processes. We’re also using a bio diesel for our direct-fired stills which is the cleanest fuel we can currently source, and we’re building the distillery so that it can use hydrogen power once that is available.’
The distillery name is being announced in time for the 2022 Fèis Ìle, the annual festival of whisky and music on Islay, which will be held in person for the first time since 2019. The festival runs from May 27 to June 4 and is set to welcome around 10,000 whisky-loving visitors to the island.
The Elixir Distillers team will be setting up two cabins on the distillery site to welcome Islay whisky enthusiasts wishing to see Portintruan in the earliest stages of its development. Visitors will be able to peruse the distillery plans, look out over the site of the distillery and chat with members of the Elixir Distillers team over a dram or two of one of their Islay whiskies.