The first distillery to use the name "Banff" was built by James McKilligan & Co. in 1824 on Banff Bay in Inverboyndie.
In 1837, ownership was transferred to Alex Mackay, and then, in 1852, to James Simpson Sr. and James Simpson Jr. In 1863, James Simpson Jr. built a new distillery, also in Inverboyndie. This distillery had better access to rail transport and a better water source in the springs on Fiskaidly farm.
Although the Banff distillery had dealt with fires and explosions in the past, a particularly bad fire damaged or destroyed much of the distillery apart from the warehouse on 9 May 1877. By October of the same year, Simpson had rebuilt the distillery and restored operation. He also then kept a fire engine on the premises. In 1921, Simpson’s family sold a portion of the distillery to the London-based Mile End Distillery Company. In 1932, a subsidiary of Distillers Company Ltd. bought the entire distillery for £50,000 and stopped production immediately.
On 16 August 1941, a Nazi Junkers attacked the Banff distillery and destroyed warehouse No. 12. Many whisky casks burned, and a great deal of stock was lost. Farmers reported that the whisky had run into nearby water supplies and intoxicated the local animal population.
“Farmers claimed that the cows were not milkable days after due to unsteady foots, not farmers but cows.
Waterfowls, wild and tamed were found flapping drunkenly on the brinks of the Boyndie Burns and its mouth. A fireman, passing his helmet to colleagues, filled to the brim with rescued whisky, ended up in court accused for pilfering.”
After World War II ended, renovation on the Banff distillery began with the intent of restoring it to operation. While one of the stills was being repaired by a coppersmith on 3 October 1959, vapours inside were ignited and caused an explosion that destroyed the still and damaged part of the distillery. The distillery’s parent company was fined £15 for having violated safety regulations.
When renovation was finally complete, the distillery returned to operating status and continued to produce whisky until it was finally mothballed in 1983. By the late 1980s, most of the distillery’s buildings had been dismantled or demolished. The last warehouse was destroyed in a fire on 11 April 1991.
Would you like to raise a glass full of history?
No problem! Now you have this incredible opportunity to enjoy this rare 1974 bottling of Banff Whisky by Gordon & MacPhail here at the Torridon Whisky Bar.
See you soon.