Pittyvaich is one of those almost secret closed distilleries as it didn’t even get through two decades of operation, as it was built in 1974 and mothballed in 1993, only to be demolished in 2002.
It was an exact replica of the Dufftown distillery (producing Diageo’s Singleton of Dufftown) and once Arthur Bell & Sons was absorbed into the Diageo forerunner DCL’s portfolio, it became redundant and after a short stint backing up Gordon’s Gin production (a role Auchroisk Distillery plays today), was mothballed and later demolished. Pittyvaich used to be a core malt in Bell’s blended whisky, but obviously whatever shortage closing the distillery caused was more than covered by other Diageo distilleries. This is evidenced in the fact that in 2012, Bell’ s sold 2.5 million cases (22.5 million liters) of whisky, and clocked in as the world’s 30th most sold whisky (down from 25th in 2010), so clearly losing Pittyvaich didn’t retard the brand’s expasion.
Diageo released a single official bottling of Pittyvaich during the distillery’s active years, a Flora and Fauna 12 year old. Surprisingly, Diageo released this 20 year old expression in 2009, as part of its annual release (alongside the 9th Port Ellen, a 23 year old Benrinnes and the penultimate Brora 30). The release was of 6000 individually numbered bottles.
But before it fell silent, it made some pretty nice whisky, and I’m lucky enough to have whisky friends with whom I can share my passion and exchange samples. My Dutch buddy, Joris Kooijman (of Caperdonich fame), shared this sample with me.
Pittyvaich 20 Years Old, Diageo Special Release 2009 (57.5% ABV)
Color: Straw, thickly coating the glass.
Nose: Lightly floral, leafy, honey, fresh hay, powdered doughnuts, geraniums, milk chocolate, vanilla ice cream, sweet pastries freshly out of the oven, cantaloupe and apple vinegar.
Palate: Grapefruit, honey melted into hot water, fresh lemon juice.
Linger: Medium in length, grapefruit and sweet lemon with some nutmeg and cider.
This is one complex and layered dram. A one of a kind beauty bringing back a blast from the past, a taste of a now silent distillery, forever lost, but not forgotten!