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Pittyvaich 1989 20 Year Old

Average score from 3 reviews and 6 ratings 85

Pittyvaich 1989 20 Year Old

Product details

  • Brand: Pittyvaich
  • Bottler: Distillery Bottling
  • ABV: 57.5%
  • Age: 20 year old
  • Vintage: 1989
  • Bottles: 6000

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Pittyvaich 1989 20 Year Old

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.


Very light in colour, lighter than the Glenfiddich Snow Phoenix. Bright and astringent nose. Some peppery capsaicin spiciness. Very complex flavours moving from pepper to lemon zest (with lots of pith), moving to vinegary caper.


My first encounter with Pittyvaich was the 12 Year Old in the Flora & Fauna series, which tasted better than I feared. Pittyvaich didn’t build up a stellar reputation in its 18 years of production (from 1975 to 1993, demolished in 2003). Last yer, Diageo made this 20 Year Old Pittyvaich part of their 2009 Special Releases. It’s distilled in 1989, matured on a refill American oak cask and limited to 6.000 bottles.

The nose is surprisingly fresh and fruity for a 20 year old whisky. After the first nose full of alcohol (57,5% ABV), I get toffee and malt. Rather grassy. Simple. Sweet and fruity (apples & peach), a bit nutty and a touch of olive oil. Adding water makes it very creamy and emphasizes the apples.

The delivery is rather sharp with the grassy element returning on some white pepper. Something metallic as well. Some vanilla and skins of green apples. I would have expected a whisky of 20 years to be somewhat more mellow. Diluting with water makes it significantly creamy. It gets a meaty character with more white fruit.

The finish, medium in length, is wonderfully warm, but somewhat oaky at the end.

This whisky is older than the distillery that produced it. You can still find a bottle for about £125. It’s not earth shattering, somewhat simple – nothing frivolous, but more than okay. Drinkable without, but much better, a splash of water.

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