The opening paragraph of my rewrite of the Barnard classic said it all – “The journey back to Banff had a sad purpose, which was to see the remains of what was once a fully operational distillery of the old-fashioned kind, which had out-lived its usefulness and which had recently been demolished – save for the offices and warehouses”.
Banff had had a somewhat chequered history. The original distillery dated from 1824 when it was located at the Mill of Banff. However, a new Banff distillery was built in 1863 at Inverboyndie, which for a time gave its name to the new operation. A severe fire in 1877 caused the distillery to be rebuilt but it seemed to prosper thereafter until DCL acquired it in 1932 and promptly shut it down. It thus remained inactive until it was brought back to life after the Second World War, but finally closed its doors forever in 1983.
A rather sad end to a distillery which once practised triple distillation and whose “Old Banff” brand of single malt used to be supplied to the House of Commons. Not surprisingly, we have none of the latter but we do have a few private bottlings of this increasingly rare malt whisky from the surviving stocks which I noted at the time of my visit came to no more than 8000 casks “which were now destined only for blending”.