There’s even more mystery surrounding the Dufftown Clock Tower. You can read it in several whisky magazines and everybody in Dufftown seems to know the story … about the Illicit Still that was discovered in the Clock Tower begin 1900’s when it was still in use as the Burgh Chambers. The local excise man who passed the tower didn’t think anything of the smell as it was probably of one of the other distilleries in Dufftown. 😉 Two different versions are told…

Figure: Artist impression of the Tower

The first version tells the story that the still was in the top of the tower, where the clock is. When the clock halted for no obvious reason one of the men went up to have a look to try to solve the problem. When he got to the clock he discovered the Illicit Still. This story is the most unlikely of the two, because how would you smuggle wash in and whisky out when it’s all the way up in the tower. Note that begin 1900’s Dufftown had no electricity. Anyone who’s ever been in the Clock Tower knows the staircases are very narrow and steep.

The second version is more realistic. It tells the story of the Illicit Still being hid in the basement. The fumes being disposed off by using tubes going up outside the tower, looking like lighting conductors. How the Illicit Still was discovered in this version is never told. But, although this story sounds as genuine, there’s no mention of it in any newspaper or other document. To put in contrast… When Mister Findlater grew beautiful flowers in his garden it was mentioned in the newspaper. Every fire was mentioned. And even drunkenness was mentioned including the name of the drunkard.

Unfortunately, there’s no evidence other than word of mouth for an Illicit Still in Clock Tower. But it makes a good story nonetheless.

This doesn’t mean that there was no Illicit Still in Dufftown at one point at all. The next is an article from 1876:


THE WOODS AT DUFFTOWN
Some of the old stills are yet pointed out, or rather the caves and deep hollows were the smugglers used to work. Deep pits such as those where we have so often lingered, on hot summer days, in the dark fir woods above Dufftown (that paradise of wild flowers), where, amid richest purple heather, you note in one place a circle of white-stemmed birches, in another a fringe of golden broom and tangled wild roses, clustering round a deep, circular cup where once the mountain dew was distilled, but where now the greenest and richest ferns nestle in the cool shade, while wood-doves murmur on every side. A pleasant resting, place, in truth.