District News, May 27 2022

Designs for Port Ellen's new Portintruan Distillery.

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Green light for Islay’s carbon neutral future

A reduction in fossil fuels and increased use of renewable energy sources are just some of the ambitions for Islay’s carbon neutral future.

Islay is one of six Scottish islands announced by the Scottish Government to become fully carbon neutral by 2040.

The initiative is part of the Carbon Neutral Islands project, aimed at supporting islands to achieve their carbon neutral ambitions.

Argyll and Bute Council recommended Islay as an ideal candidate for inclusion due to the mix of potential energy sources on the island including offshore wind proposals and potential tidal schemes.

Islay is home to a range of economic sectors including agriculture, tourism, food and drink and public bodies. In addition, there are opportunities to capture carbon through peatland restoration on the island.

Islay’s involvement will create opportunities for the local community to work with industry, to identify ways of reducing fossil fuel.

A particular focus will look at deploying renewable sources to help deliver more sustainable energy.

‘The council is fully committed to playing a significant role in supporting Scotland’s ambitions on tackling the threat of climate change,’ said Councillor Robin Currie, policy lead for economy and rural growth.

‘The news that Islay has been confirmed as part of the Carbon Neutral Islands project is extremely welcome and is the latest evidence of our determination to achieve our goal of becoming the UK’s first net zero region by 2045.

‘We look forward to working with communities and local industry to explore innovative solutions to reduce fossil fuel use and make more use of renewable energy.

‘We are confident Islay can achieve carbon neutral status and further enhance Argyll and Bute’s position as a climate friendly area to live, work and visit.’

The use of renewable energy resources on Islay to help deliver more sustainable local energy systems is one of the climate friendly initiatives outlined in the council’s £70 million Rural Growth Deal.

Island’s 11th distillery on stream with new name

Just over six months after breaking ground, and after much speculation, Elixir Distillers has confirmed its new Islay distillery will be called Portintruan.

Located just outside the town of Port Ellen on Islay’s south coast, on the way to Laphroaig, Lagavulin and Ardbeg distilleries, Portintruan is pronounced Port-nah-truan.

It takes its name from the historic farm estate where the distillery is located and means ‘place of the stream’.

Portintruan will be adding an experimental distillery within the site – so it will be two distilleries in one. 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 visitors’ centre, a bar and restaurant, a tasting room bothy overlooking the sea, and a multi-purpose educational facility, which will serve as a base for an apprentice programme to train the next generation of distillers.

Work on the site is well under way, with ground works complete and work on the foundations about to start, followed by the steel work. Portintruan is anticipating it will begin distilling from early 2024.

‘Portintruan will be where the past meets the future,’ Elixir said, ‘combining old-style production techniques with modern technology.’

Explaining his vision, co-owner Sukhinder Singh said: ‘We will be utilising a number of old-style production techniques which we believe will accentuate the depth and character of the spirit.

‘A key part of the process will be using malt predominantly from our own floor maltings on-site, and we will be using direct-fired wash stills for the distillation.’

Sustainability is one of the most important factors in Portintruan’s plans, said distillery manager Georgie Crawford: ‘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.

‘We are using the latest technology to implement a heat loop for our water usage to ensure the maximum amount is recycled and reused with the heat recovered for other processes.

‘We’re also using a bio diesel for our direct-fired stills which is the cleanest fuel we can currently source, and we’re building the distillery so that it can use hydrogen power once that is available.’