Diageo to revive Brora and Port Ellen

Today's news illustrates an increased popularity in the scotch whisky industry, which contributes nearly £5 billion to the United Kingdom economy annually and supports over 40,000 jobs (according to figures from the Scotch Whisky Association).

They will have capacity of about 800,000 litres of alcohol per year - less than half the usual scale for malt production, and less a tenth of the biggest malt distilleries.

Distilling giant Diageo is to invest £35m in malt whisky facilities in Brora, Sutherland, and Port Ellen on Islay.

The only thing that really changed is the price: In the 2006 Special Releases line-up, a 21-year-old Port Ellen was available for GBP125, while a Brora 30-year-old cost GBP175.

The two sites will distil in controlled quantities, replicating the methods of the original distilleries where possible.

Diageo has announced that two of its revereed "lost" distilleries, Port Ellen and Brora, are to begin production again, in a move that is being described as a powerful statement of the confidence in the future of Scotch whisky.

Nick Morgan, head of whisky outreach at Diageo, said: "This is a truly exceptional moment in Scotch whisky".

David Cutter, Diageo's president of global supply and procurement, said the distilleries should be in operation by 2020 with the first whisky available for sale in 2032 following the ageing process.

The reinstated Port Ellen distillery will be housed in a new building on the site, with new stills created from detailed records, while Brora will refurbish the closed distillery's existing buildings and single pair of stills. So, in making the decision, it will have had to look ahead and try to predict demand for its products from 2030 onwards. Diageo will also install new worm tubs. He added that Diageo is considering launching 12-year-old whiskies as the "benchmark" from both distilleries.

Further afield, Asian markets including India, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates are all enjoying strong growth - both in terms of volumes and in terms of consumers "trading up" to more expensive brands. While fewer than one in 10 of all bottles of Scotch whisky exported is a single malt, single malts accounted for 26% of all exports by value, with exports of single malts topping £1bn past year for the first time.

Diageo is calculating that things are different this time.

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