TWO “lost” whisky distilleries are to be revived with a major investment – more than 30 years after they were shut down.

The Port Ellen distillery on the island of Islay and the Brora distillery on the remote eastern coast of Sutherland are being brought back into production by drinks giant Diageo in a project costing £35 million.

Following the closure of the sites in 1983, the whiskies produced by the two “ghost” distilleries have become some of the most highly-prized and sought-after.

The plan to reopen their doors follows demand from whisky fans to and reflects the strong growth in the single malt market, according to the firm.

David Cutter, Diageo’s president of global supply and procurement, said: “This is no ordinary Scotch whisky distillery investment.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to bring these iconic distilleries back to life. We will take great care to be true to the spirit of the original distilleries in everything that we do and operate them with all the knowledge, skill, craft and love of Scotch that our people and our company have gathered through centuries of whisky-making.”

The new distilleries will be among Diageo’s smallest. They will be capable of producing 800,000 litres of alcohol per year.

Bosses vowed they will replicate as closely as possible the previous taste profiles of Port Ellen and Brora, with medium peated character at both sites.

The distilleries are expected to be back in production by 2020, subject to factors such as planning permission and design work.

Cask filling and traditional warehousing will also be part of the operation at both sites.

Dr Nick Morgan, Diageo’s head of whisky outreach, said: “This is a truly exceptional moment in Scotch whisky.

“Port Ellen and Brora are names which have a uniquely powerful resonance with whisky lovers all around the world.

“The opportunity to bring these lost distilleries back to life is as rare and special as the spirit for which the distilleries are famous.

“Only a very few people will ever be able to try the original Port Ellen and Brora single malts as they become increasingly rare.

“So we are thrilled that we will now be able to produce new expressions of these whiskies for new generations of people to enjoy.”

Economy Secretary Keith Brown said: “I welcome this significant investment by Diageo, which will help to create employment in these rural and remote communities and is a sign of the strength and popularity of our iconic whisky industry.

“The return of these distilleries will help to act as a catalyst to draw in tourists to see where these brands are produced, and to discover why they are so revered.”