Port Ellen Untold Stories: The Spirit Safe tells the story of a closed distillery

Port Ellen Untold Stories: The Spirit Safe


Diageo makes available the Port Ellen Untold Stories: The Spirit Safe – an ultra-rare 39-year old vintage malt from the closed distillery – in Singapore this April.

Malts from the Islay distillery of Port Ellen are extremely rare, and for good reason. The distillery was closed and dismantled by Diageo back in 1983, and it was closed for a period between 1930 and the late 1960s as well when it was under the ownership of Distillers Company Limited (DCL).

Any remaining stock of Port Ellen today would most likely have been distilled in the less than two decades between 1967 to 1983. Over the years many of those casks would have been used by Diageo for blending into high-end Johnnie Walker expressions (the Johnnie Walker Blue Label Ghost and Rare Port Ellen comes to mind), released as special rare official bottlings, or traded into the hands of independent bottlers such as Signatory and Douglas Laing. As you can imagine, what’s left is pitifully little, and very, very pricy.

So when Diageo announced the exclusive release of Port Ellen Untold Stories: The Spirit Safe, a 39 year-old single malt, collectors took note. Not many know the history of Port Ellen, but it was one of the most innovative in its time. The distillery under founder John Ramsay was the first Scotch distillery to trade with North America. And the reason why this release is called The Spirit Safe? It’s a reference to the distillation device used during the distillation process to help separate “cuts”. Port Ellen was one of the first to implement and try the device invented by Septimus Fox back in the early 1820s, and instrumental in making it an industry standard in Scotch whisky making.

Port Ellen The Spirit Safe – setting a new industry standard.

Thanks to the current burgeoning global whisky demand, Diageo in late 2017 announced that the Port Ellen distillery will be resurrected and be reopen in 2021. But since the original Port Ellen wasn’t mothballed – useable equipment was reclaimed and reused at other distilleries, buildings torn down and sadly, copper stills destroyed – any new Port Ellen expressions when they’re ready that comes from the new distillery are unlikely to taste similar to old Port Ellen. Which makes the Untold Stories series, including The Spirit Safe, especially collectible.

Setting a rare precedent for exceptional whisky since the beginning in 1825, this release is a perfect exploration of how early innovation at the distillery played a role in shaping the whisky industry as a whole,” shared Georgie Crawford, Master Distiller for the new Port Ellen.

“There’s an ethereal quality to Port Ellen and to the distillery itself. John Ramsay was an early innovator in the whisky industry, and not many people know how important Port Ellen was in the early days of the whisky industry. Through this release we hope to give more insight into why it is so special a liquid, not just for its flavour, but for its history,” she adds.

“As this release has been selected from a small number of casks, it is very different from other Port Ellen release, says Tom Jones, Global Prestige Brand Ambassador for Johnnie Walker. “Authentic in character, as it came from the casks and natural in colour, this liquid will no doubt inspire connoisseurs and collectors alike to own this once in a lifetime piece of history”.

The Port Ellen Untold Stories: The Spirit Safe has a natural cask strength ABV of 50.9% and a recommended retail price of S$7,000. It will be available from selected luxury retailers globally from early April 2019. Just 1,500 bottles available globally.

For further enquiries or pre-order, email concierge@johnniewalker.com.sg.