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Oldest known bottle of Banff Single Malt Whisky to be auctioned goes under the hammer

By David Porter

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Pure Old Banff Malt Whisky
Pure Old Banff Malt Whisky

Whisky-Online Auctions, who specialise in old bottles of whisky, will be auctioning a unique 1920s official bottling of single malt whisky from the lost Banff distillery.

The sale begins today and concludes on Wednesday, October 20 at www.whisky-onlineauctions.com.

This ancient bottle of Pure Old Banff Malt Whisky 15-year-old was bottled by the Mile End Distillery Company Ltd, who had owned a share of the distillery since 1921.

Banff distillery was sold to Distillers Company Limited in 1932, so it is certain that this whisky 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, a style that has almost died out.

Until now the earliest vintages of Banff single malt available were independent bottlings distilled in the 1960s.

The discovery of this official Banff from the 1920s is of great historical significance and is believed to be the first official bottling from the distillery from this era ever to go under the hammer.

This Pure Old Banff 15-year-old must also be the first triple-distilled Banff to come to auction, and at a strength of 21 under-proof (around 45 per cent) the liquid should still be in good condition, providing fascinating insight into how triple-distilled Highland whisky tasted a century ago.

Whisky-Online Auctions owner Wayne Ormerod says: "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! We’re honoured to have the privilege of bringing this historic official bottle of Banff single malt whisky to auction."

Harrison Ormerod of Whisky-Online Auctions says: “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 ancient triple-distilled Highland style and the lost character of the single malt whisky made and enjoyed by our forefathers over a century ago.”

The original Banff distillery was founded in 1824, but the distillery was moved in 1863 to Inverboyndie by owner James Simpson Jr.

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.

Banff survived various rebuilds and production stoppages before succumbing to economic forces during the whisky lake crisis in 1983, when it was closed and demolished by owners Distillers Company Ltd (DCL).

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.

After WWII, Banff’s whisky was never officially bottled during its lifetime: the only modern era official bottling of Banff appeared in 2004, over two decades after the distillery had been closed and demolished.

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