Durham students launch port company

Are you even surprised?

Old Elvet Ltd is a start up selling premium 20 year aged port, launched by recent Durham graduates. They uncorked the idea back in 2014 with the aim of providing something that Durham affiliates can treat themselves to and remember the University by.

Port is one of those drinks, like tequila and jagermeister, that everyone seems to have a story about but ask one of the chaps on the Entrepreneurs Durham squad behind Old Elvet Ltd for their port story and they’ve got something a little more LinkedIn friendly up their dinner jacket sleeves.

Elvet 2

It may be tempting for the saltier among us to suggest that this is just an extension of the elitism that comprises one of the best known, and least flattering Durham stereotypes, along with red chinos, signet rings and a penchant for tweed.

The founders insist that this is rather missing the point of the company, who are providing a nice drink for Durhamites and ploughing most of their profits back into Entrepreneurs Durham for other Durhamites to use for their innovative and entrepreneurial pursuits.

Recent Stevenson graduate Justinas Cirtautas, who has headed up the team since the start, explained that the aim of the brand is “not to sell a posh drink to rich kids.”

“We want to create a tradition for Durham University students to embrace and be excited about – we want to re-establish port as the university’s drink, as it was back in the seventies, and do this through bottles of Old Elvet. We want to offer a product that can symbolise Durham so well that people choose it as a memento.”


Justinas told The Tab that it took a while for the team to make a decision on the product, describing the tasting session, in what seems like it might be a bit of an understatement, as “quite fun”. He explained the reasoning behind the decision to go with the 20 year aged port, saying, “In the end we thought the 20 tasted nice. Furthermore, we thought the 20 would be a nice touch because some new graduates will be born the year it was produced before the ageing process began!”

And if port tasting doesn’t sound like excitements enough, the team also did a photo-shoot with Durham’s famous Digby Walker.


Justinas says that one of the biggest challenges has been organising the distribution and storage. “It’s an absolute nightmare dealing with (and importing) licensed goods. To solve this problem we have partnered up with Ales by Mail so when customers click to buy a bottle they will be redirected to an ales ecommerce website – don’t worry it’s definitely port!”

While founding members will remain involved in the business to ensure that it doesn’t stray too far from the original vision, Old Elvet Ltd places great importance on the concept of a product by Durham students, for Durham students. Although the grapes are grown and processed outside the bubble in  Douro Valley, the company stays true to this aim by maintaining involvement with undergraduates, meaning that they’ll have a number of roles up for grabs next year as some members have now graduated.

If you don’t fancy getting involved with the business side, but do fancy turning your glass to the drinking element, bottles are available now from https://oldelvet.co.uk/.