Elixir Distillers broke ground with their new Islay distillery six months ago and recently they shared the name of the new facility with the whiskey world… Portintruan.
Just outside Port Ellen on the south coast of Islay, near the distilleries of Laphroaig, Lagavulin and Ardbeg, Portintruan will rise from the verdant Islay grounds. Pronounced Port-nah-truan, it takes its name from the historic estate where the distillery is located and means “place of the brook”.
Co-owner Sukhinder Singh explained the vision for the distillery in a prepared statement. “Elixir Distillers has always taken a flavor-based approach and this will continue to be Portintruan’s philosophy. We’ll be using some old production techniques that we think will accentuate the depth and character of the spirit.”
He said a key part of the process will use malt sourced primarily from their own onsite malts, and they will use direct-fired wash stills for the distillation.
“We plan to work with different phenolic levels across the range, all of which will have their own distinct flavor profiles,” he said.
Portintruan will combine these old-fashioned production techniques with modern technology to improve the process, quality and durability.
In fact, being sustainable is one of the key factors in Portintruan’s plans, although distillery manager Georgie Crawford acknowledged that there is still a lot of work to be done.
“By working within what is currently possible on Islay, we want to be as green and responsible as possible. We’re talking to the Islay Energy Trust, our fellow island distillers and suppliers to make sure we’re seizing every opportunity to be greener,” Crawford said.
He noted that they are using the latest technology to implement a heat cycle for their water use to ensure the maximum amount is recycled and reused with the recovered heat for other processes.
They also use biodiesel for the direct-fired stills, the cleanest fuel they can currently extract, and are building the distillery so it can use hydrogen when it’s available.
Portintruan will build an experimental distillery on the site, so it will be two distilleries in one. Crawford explained that this will enable the team to produce not only different Scotch whiskey styles, but also rum.
Plans for the distillery site also include 14 homes for Islay families who work in the distillery, a visitor center, bar and restaurant, and tasting room overlooking the sea, and a multi-purpose educational facility that will serve as the basis for an apprenticeship program to to train the next generation of distillers.
The distillery’s name has been announced in time for the 2022 Fèis le, the annual festival of whiskey and music on Islay, which will be held in person for the first time since 2019.
Running from Friday, May 27 to Saturday, June 4, the festival is expected to welcome some 10,000 whiskey aficionados to the island.
The Elixir Distillers team will place two huts at the distillery to welcome Islay visitors who wish to see Portintruan in the earliest stages of its development.
They can check out the distillery plans, look out over the distillery site and chat with members of the Elixir Distillers team over a dram or two of one of their Islay whiskies.
Elixir Distillers will also host a number of tastings and events on Islay during the festival.
Work on the distillery is in full swing, groundwork has been completed and work on the foundation is about to begin, followed by the steelwork. Portintruan expects to start distilling in early 2024.