The first known Banff distillery was licensed by James McKilligan in 1824, following the Excise Act of the previous year. Rebuilt in 1863 by James Simpson Junior, the distillery has suffered many a blow. In 1877, a devastating fire raged through the distillery, completely destroying it. It was then rebuilt several months later with a fire engine kept on site for posterity.
On the 16th August 1941, disaster struck once more when a German fighter plane gunned one of the warehouses. Much spirit was lost as casks combusted and emptied their contents unreservedly into the surrounding countryside. The Banffshire Journal quoted an eyewitness to the scene, ‘even the farm animals grazing in the neighbourhood became visibly intoxicated’. Some of the local fauna perished from alcohol poisoning. Banff’s misfortunes did not end there.
In 1959, a blast was caused by metal work at the distillery. The damage was great and once more the distillery was rebuilt. The Speyside based distillery lies half a mile to the west of the town of the same name and the name 'Banff' may derive from ‘Banbh’, a name for Ireland. In 1983, the distillery was closed due to problems with water supply, much spirit still remained, however, and independent bottlings are numerous. Banff’s last official owner being Diageo, the distillery was shut down completely and 1991 and shortly after the last remaining warehouse on the site was ravaged by a fire.