Just over six months after breaking ground, and after much speculation from whisky enthusiasts around the world, Elixir Distillers has confirmed that their 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’.
Co-owner Sukhinder Singh explains the vision for the distillery: “Elixir Distillers has always taken a flavour-led approach and this will be the Portintruan philosophy as well. 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. We plan to work with different phenol levels across the range, which will all have their own specific flavour profiles.” Sukhinder Singh
Portintruan will be where the past meets the future, combining these old-style production techniques with modern technology to improve process and quality, and of course sustainability. Being sustainable is one of the most important factors in Portintruan’s plans, although Distillery Manager Georgie Crawford recognises there is a lot of work still to be done:
“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 waterusage 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.”
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.
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 Friday 27th May to Saturday 4th June 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. Elixir Distillers will
also be running a number of tastings and events across Islay during the festival.
Full details can be found on the festival website https://feisile.co.uk/feis-ile-2022/
Work on the site is well underway, with ground works complete and foundations about to commence, followed by the steel work. Portintruan is anticipating starting distilling from early 2024.
About Elixir Distillers
Founded by Sukhinder and Rajbir Singh, Elixir Distillers is a creator, blender and bottler of fine spirits, combining delicious, characterful liquid with beautiful design. Their expertise is Scotch whisky and rum but they also work with Japanese whisky, tequila and other spirits. Their core brands include Port Askaig, Elements of Islay, Single Malts of Scotland and Black Tot which they export to more than 25 international markets around the world.