Port Ellen Maltings


The only industrial malster on Islay is Diageo‘s Port Ellen Maltings. The production of malt started in 1974. The barley is delivered from England by ships to Port Ellen harbour as there is not much storage capacity on the island and then transported by lorries to the maltings.

The production is automatic. Traditional steeping tanks break the barley‘s dormancy, the germination is carried out in drums. The green malt is then dried in three kilns. About six tonnes of peat, a mixture of top and lower peat, dry the green malt to arrest the growth of the germinating barley during the first 16 hrs, after that hot air heated by crude oil is blown into the drying kiln. There are only two workers per shift. 30 tonnes of barley (Oxbridge in 2010, Concerto in 2015) make for 23 tonnes of malted barley. 

22.000 tonnes of barley are treated per year. Port Ellen Maltings is the supplier of Ardbeg, Bowmore, Bunnahabhain, Caol Ila, Kilchoman, Lagavulin, Talisker, Tobermory and others. The malt is produced according to the particular specifications and requirements of the distilleries.

In 2008 a huge silo collapsed, see www.islayblog.com. A major upgrade was carried out by automation, implementing controlling and monitoring processes from barley intake to malt dispatch, from steeping, germination, kilning and storage. The three-year investment programme cost Diageo about 3 million Pounds.

New chimneys were installed in July 2010 to reduce the smoke affecting the people of Port Ellen.

Malting: Steeping in vessels (two days), germination in drums (four and half days), drying in kiln

Site Operations Manager: Ramsey Borthwick (2014)

Not open to the public. Tours are offered only during Feis Ile, the Islay Whisky Festival.

Ther is a nice and very informative film : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rVIBCv5X1OM

Please double-click and thumbnail the photo to open the tour.

Thank you.

owner: Diageo plc