Oldest Bottle Of Banff Whisky Is Heading To Auction
BOTTLED BY THE MILE END DISTILLERY CO. LTD LONDON BETWEEN 1921-1932
Here at Whisky-Online Auctions we’re known for our specialisation in lovely old bottles of whisky from days gone by – and this is one of the best we’ve ever found!
We’ve known of the existence of this unique bottle of Banff for some time, so we were absolutely delighted to finally land it for our auction. The owner of this bottle received it from a family member in 1973 as an 18th birthday gift and it has remained in his possession ever since.
The Banff distillery was built in Inverboyndie, only a few hundred metres from Scotland’s northeastern Moray coast, in 1863 by owner James Simpson Jr, who had owned the previous Banff distillery (founded 1824) but closed it to concentrate production at the new distillery, which was better located for transport and water supply.
Banff was plagued with ill luck throughout its history – the distillery suffered two major fires in its lifetime and was hit by the Luftwaffe in 1941, when the warehouses were being used as an RAF training base.
Nevertheless, Banff survived various rebuilds and production stoppages before succumbing to economic forces in 1983, when it was closed as part of Distillers Company Ltd’s cull of distilleries during the whisky lake crisis. The last warehouse building at Banff was destroyed by another fire in 1991 shortly before its scheduled demolition.
Banff’s whisky was highly regarded in the Simpson era, and at one time the distillery even supplied an official ‘Old Banff’ single malt as house whisky to the House of Commons.
When Banff passed into DCL ownership it was mothballed until after WWII and its whisky was subsequently used principally for blending – the first and only modern era official bottling of Banff was a Rare Malts edition in 2004, over two decades after the distillery had been closed and demolished.
This ancient bottle of Pure Old Banff Malt Whisky 15-year-old was bottled by Mile End Distillery Company Ltd, a subsidiary of the Taylor Walker Brewery Co., who had bought a significant share of the distillery from the Simpson family in 1921.
DCL bought the Banff distillery in 1932 for £50,000 from Mile End and the Simpsons (when the latter had gone into liquidation), so we can say with certainty that this official Banff was bottled between 1921-1932.
The dates of the Mile End ownership mean that the youngest whisky in this Banff bottle – which is stated to be ‘Guaranteed Over 15 Years Old’ – will have been distilled between 1906 and 1917, a period when according to most sources the Banff distillery was practising triple-distillation. It’s believed that the intermediate spirit still at the distillery was removed in 1924 during the Mile End period.
Given that the earliest vintages of Banff single malt we’ve seen were independent bottlings distilled in the 1960s, this find is of great historical significance and we believe it may be the first time that a Banff of this antiquity has been auctioned – and the first official bottling from the distillery from this era ever to go under the hammer.
”I’ve been dealing in whisky for over 30 years and I have handled tens of thousands of unique bottles but during all this time I have never laid eyes on an old official bottling of Banff whisky before – let alone laid my hands on one”
Wayne Ormerod – Founder of Whisky-Online Auctions
It also seems certain, therefore, that this Pure Old Banff 15-year-old must be the first triple-distilled Banff to come to auction, and at a strength of 21 under-proof (79-proof, so around 45%) this whisky should still be in excellent condition, providing fascinating insight into how triple-distilled Highland whisky tasted a century ago.
We’re honoured to have the privilege of bringing this historic official bottle of Banff single malt whisky to auction. Whiskies as rare as this Pure Old Banff 15-Year-Old come along only very infrequently and have a genuine historical significance, especially when they are from distilleries that have been closed and demolished so long ago. The liquid in this bottle will provide a fascinating insight into the process and character of the single malt whisky made and enjoyed by our forefathers over a century ago.
The auction will begin on Wednesday 13th October and conclude on Wednesday 20th October 2021 at www.whisky-onlineauctions.com