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Pittyvaich distillery was built in 1974 by Arthur Bell & Sons, next to Dufftown distillery. It started production in 1975, with its main purpose being to produce malt whisky for Bell’s blends. Pittyvaich changed hands when in 1987 United Distillers Company was formed following the merger of Bell’s with Distillers Company Limited (DCL). In 1993, shortly after United Distillers had released the first semi-official bottling (Flora & Fauna) in 1991, the distillery was closed and was finally demolished in 2002. This 20-year old expression was distilled in 1989 and bottled by Diageo as part of their 2009 special releases with a total outturn of 6,000 bottles. This review relates to bottle no. 3,446.
The nose is surprisingly fruity and sweet to start with. Given the high ABV I had expected an onrush of alcohol but instead I got flavours of vanilla, sweet white wine, lemons, and grass. By all means the alcohol has been beautifully integrated – impressive! With water both vanilla and grassy notes become even more distinct.
The palate is medium-bodied, spicy and dry. The oak influence is rather prominent at the beginning but soon gives way to grassy as well as fruity notes such as apples and orange peel. Later on there are notes of coffee and tobacco. Adding water brings out some zesty lemon flavours.
The finish is of medium length, malty, and pleasantly warming. Vanilla and orange peel flavours are back, followed by a hint of white pepper.
This single malt is proof that short-lived distilleries can produce good whisky. The way the alcohol has been contained within the overall flavour profile is impressive, and the nose is clean and lovely. The palate on the other hand was a touch too austere for my taste, but all in all I rather enjoyed this tasting experience and look forward to the rest of my bottle.