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Banff distillery was established in 1824 by James McKilligan & Co. on the west side of Banff Bay in Inverboyndie, a small village about a mile west of the town of Banff itself. In 1837 the distillery was taken over by Alex Mackay, and in 1852 ownership transferred to James Simpson Sr. and James Simpson Jr. In 1863, James Simpson Jr. built a new distillery in Inverboyndie to replace the old one. This distillery had better access to rail transport (via the Great North of Scotland Railway) and a better water source in the springs on Fiskaidly farm. Banff distillery has a sad history of fires, explosions and bombings: in 1877 a particularly bad fire damaged or destroyed much of the distillery apart from the warehouse. On 16 August 1941 a German Junkers Ju 88 attacked the 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. After World War II 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. This particular expression was distilled in March 1971 and bottled in August 2009 by Douglas Laing in its Platinum Old and Rare series.
The nose is very light and quite grassy. I detected touches of vanilla and milk. With water there is milk chocolate as well as more vanilla and hints of lemon. Altogether this is a rather light nose, almost flighty.
The palate is light-bodied and spicy, the whole being covered in a strange plastic note. With water the spiciness is gone and the palate becomes more rounded, however the plastic element has now increased even more. There are also touches of sandpaper and tobacco. Rather weird.
The finish is of medium length, spicy and warming. With water there is some vanilla and more sandpaper, even more than on the palate. Peppery and grassy at the same time.
This is not a quick charmer. The extremely light nose was followed by a palate that was marked by not very appealing plastic flavours. Still, there is a particular touch to this whisky, like a grumpy old guy whose antics you need to bear with in order to get a good conversation.