Wayfarer- Banffshire has a very proud whisky tradition

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I look for tales of interest and in my search am often amazed at the vagaries that life has to offer.

Scotland is a relatively small country, but it has produced men of vision who have introduced countless benefits to life as we know it.

Take Banffshire for instance although a seemingly insignificant county it has a history that is worth considering. We have all enjoyed the benefits of whisky and in Banffshire we find Speyside where whisky has been distilled legally or illegally for some six hundred years. It was first distilled by monks who brought a form of ‘uisge beatha’ home with them from travels far and wide in Europe and Asia. In their monasteries back home in Scotland they improved upon it with the benefit of clear highland peaty water. It seems unbelievable to realize that excavations on the island of Rum discovered that distillation of drink was understood to have taken place there some six thousand years ago.

As you all know malt whisky comes from malted barley whilst grain whisky comes from maize with a little malted barley. Now I wonder what the inhabitants of Rum were distilling some six thousand years ago and what a bottle of their whisky would fetch in today’s markets.

Keith’s Strathisla distillery is the oldest legal distillery in the Highlands having been in existence since 1786, but obviously whisky has been distilled well before that time.

Dufftown which is known as the town that stands on seven stills, can be found in Glen Fiddich, the valley of the deer, and for its size the town is one of the top four foreign currency earners in Britain. In 1963 Glenfiddich became the first to market single malt whisky outside Scotland and is the only Highland single malt whisky that is distilled, matured and bottled at its own distillery. The Glenfiddich Distillery has been owned and managed by the Grant family since 1887 and William Grant & Sons Ltd. is still an independent firm in family hands.

Mind you Banffshire has more to offer than just whisky, Katherine, Duchess of Atholl (1874-1960), who was known as Kitty or the Red Duchess, was born in Banff, the county town, and became not only the first Scottish woman member of Parliament but also the first woman conservative cabinet minister.

Other salient facts about Banffshire are that Ben Macdhui at 4,296 feet is the second highest mountain in Britain whilst the 9th. tee at Dufftown Golf Club is the highest hole in Britain at 1,294 feet above sea level. See you next week.