Diageo’s scotch whisky distillation has returned to its Port Ellen distillery on Islay for the first time in 40 years.
Port Ellen, which shut in 1983, is well into preparations ahead of its public opening in March, according to Diageo’s president of global supply chain Ewan Andrew.
The re-opening, which is the “final piece” of the Diageo £185 million investment in whisky tourism, will include a visitor centre.
Mr Andrew also confirmed ongoing investments of more than £230m, increasing distillery capacity as well as decarbonising its sites.
Official process underway at ‘iconic’ Port Ellen distillery
Mr Andrew said Port Ellen is one of Diageo’s “most iconic” scotch whisky distilleries and has confidence in its success.
He said: “I’m very excited about Port Ellen, I think it’s the last piece of our £185m scotch investment.
“It closed in 1983, so to reopen it is a big deal – it’s one of the most iconic distilleries.
“We’re starting the official process ahead of opening to the public, it is great to see whisky travel to the island again.”
Mr Andrew has also hinted at further investments across the north-east and islands with announcements expected in the coming months.
He said: “We’re investing heavily in increasing capacity as well as decarbonising sites by putting in biomass boilers.
“A lot of money is also going towards taking sites back up to seven days a week from five.
“There are a lot more exciting things happening in the north-east soon but we’re keeping them under wraps for the moment.
“Scotch whisky is one of Diageo’s biggest players, so we want to make sure we are prepared for decades to come.”
‘Challenging’ quarter for Diageo
Mr Andrew said it has been a challenging period for the company, however he remains positive about improvements.
He said: “Scotch is down 10% in net sales, which is mainly due to the 25% decrease in sales in Latin America.
“Now we need to focus on marketing and advertising and I’m positive that we will see sequential improvements.
“The second half of the year is predicted to be better than the first – although we’re still anticipating our Latin America numbers to remain down by 10-20%.”
In November, its shares plummeted around 15%, wiping more than £10 billion off its market value.
Shares were down a further 2% in this morning’s trading.