|The Clock Tower, Dufftown|
Here, we take a brief tour of the town and look at its history and the history of its whisky distilleries ...
Dufftown in a nutshell
Dufftown, and the area surrounding it, has been a site of human settlement for over 2,000 years. The earliest clues are a series of Pictish stones located in the Fiddich glen that are still able to be visited today, including an impressive six foot high stone cross. In 566AD, the Mortlach church was built by a group of Christians and this too is still standing today. It is one of the oldest remaining Christian settlements in Scotland and is located between the Dufftown and Mortlach distilleries. Another building of historical importance is Balvenie Castle, which was built in the 13th century by the Earl of Buchan. It has had famous visitors such as King Edward I and Mary Queen of Scots.
|Balvenie Castle and Glenfiddich distillery|
Dufftown as we know it today was founded in 1817 by James Duff, who was the 4th Earl of Fife. It was built to home those returning to the area from the Napoleonic Wars. The most recognisable building of this era is the clock tower, which was completed in 1839. It was originally built to be the town jail but today is the tourist information office. Interestingly, the clock itself was not part of the original building, but came from a similar building in the town of Banff. Over time, numerous whisky companies began to populate the town and build distilleries. This was due to the abundant water supply in the Fiddich glen and surrounding hills. As a result, Dufftown now raises more capital per head of population than any other place in the UK.
There are three other distilleries that can still be seen in some form or another in Dufftown – Convalmore, Parkmore and Pittyvaich. These distilleries are no longer in operation but have all contributed to the whisky history of the town.
Convalmore is located at the northern point of Dufftown and the buildings are now owned by William Grant & Sons, forming part of their massive site that includes Balvenie, Glenfiddich and Kininvie. It was founded in 1894 and closed in 1985, making whiskies from Convalmore now extremely rare.
Pittyvaich (pronounced pitty-vek) was built in 1974 and had a short-lived production life. It closed in 1993 and its buildings demolished in 2002. All that remains is a rather unattractive square patch of dirt where the distillery once stood and the very occasional single malt release.