Elixir Distillers broke ground on their new Islay distillery six months ago, and recently they’ve shared the name of the new facility with the whisky world … Portintruan.
Found just outside Port Ellen on Islay’s south coast, near Laphroaig, Lagavulin and Ardbeg distilleries, Portintruan will rise from the green Islay grounds. 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 explained the vision for the distillery in a prepared statement. “Elixir Distillers has always taken a flavor-led approach and this will be the Portintruan philosophy as well. We will be utilizing a number of old-style production techniques which we believe will accentuate the depth and character of the spirit.”
He said a key part of the process will be using malt predominantly from their own floor maltings on-site, and they will use 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 flavor profiles,” he said.
Portintruan will combine these old-style production techniques with modern technology to improve process and quality, as well as sustainability.
In fact, being sustainable is one of the most important factors in Portintruan’s plans, although Distillery Manager Georgie Crawford recognized there’s 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,” Crawford said.
He noted that they’re using the latest technology to implement a heat loop for their water usage to ensure the maximum amount is recycled and reused with the heat recovered for other processes.
They’re also using a bio diesel for the direct-fired stills, which is the cleanest fuel they can currently source, and they’re building the distillery so that it can use hydrogen power once that is available.
Portintruan will build an experimental distillery within the site, so it will be two distilleries in one. Crawford explained that 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 center, a bar and restaurant, and a tasting room overlooking the sea, and a multi-purpose educational facility which will serve as a base for an apprentice program to train the next generation of distillers.
The distillery name has been 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, May 27th to Saturday, June 4th, and is set to welcome around 10,000 whisky-loving visitors to the island.
The Elixir Distillers team will set up two cabins on the distillery site to welcome Islay visitors looking to see Portintruan in the earliest stages of its development.
They 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.
Work on the distillery site is well underway, with groundworks complete and work on the foundations about to start, which will be followed by the steel work. Portintruan is anticipating starting distilling in early 2024.
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