Pittyvaich 1989: 25 Year (Scottish Speyside Single Malt Whisky: 25 Year: 49.9% ABV)
Visual: Middling intensity grain colour.
Viscosity: A few middling streaks, mainly slow puckering.
Nose: Cereal grain. Alcohol. Vanilla.
Body: Cream, Pineapple chunks and tropical tinned fruit. Alcohol. Honey to dry mead. Water smooths, lightly waxy touch. Light creamy raspberry and fudge.
Finish: White chocolate chunks. Alcohol. Cheerios. Light wood shavings. Tropical tinned fruit. Water brings more tropical fruit, smoother character and a light oily sheen.
Conclusion: I find it odd, people say that first impressions are so important – yet cask strength whisky, highly prized and in demand cask strength whisky – will rarely be at its best when first encountered, before water has been added.
So, yeah, without water this is a bit closed and alcohol filled. Though, despite the alcohol being evident this still feels pretty smooth – especially for one that is nearly 50% abv. I guess I good bit of age can do that – but despite the smoothness there is an alcohol presence that makes it hard to get into. Then again, nearly 50% abv, I can’t say that was unexpected.
Even with the water, the aroma doesn’t say much – a fairly simple and predominantly grain filled kind of thing. So this is two for two on lack of good first impressions.
So, with all that in mind let’s check out the main body onwards with a bit of influence from the miracle worker that is water. Ok, here it becomes very smooth, creamy, slightly but only slightly waxy. All this with just a touch of water. So, for the mouthfeel it is a spot on mix between smoothness and yet still nicely viscous in texture. A lot of aged whisky can become too light, even before water, this still has enough weight to avoid that trap.
Flavour wise the base spirit seems quite neutral as I am getting less from that and more from a master-class on American bourbon oak ageing. Lots of tinned tropical fruit, white chocolate, dried pineapple chunks. All very smooth, fresh and easy drinking – Very enjoyable, however it does show that the base whisky seems to be giving more of a feel than a flavour here.
If I drank this blind, I think it would do well – it is a very tasty, smooth, general drinking whisky. With water it is far unlike its initial strength and almost too easy to sip large amounts of. As an example of the distillery though, especially as an expensive dead distillery, it doesn’t stand out much. The impressive characteristics seem to come from the oak for flavour, and age for smoothness. Now those are very good characteristics – smooth, fresh but grounded by a solid cereal character. Which are available in much cheaper whisky. Which is the problem. Go for those cheaper bourbon show whiskies.
Though I will say, aside from that I am very much enjoying this – the texture is where the whisky shines – smooth enough, creamy enough and just waxy enough. It may not have unusual flavour, but it has the feel.
So, not on the must try list of dead distilleries – but on its merits alone it is pretty good, just not silly money good.
Background: Treating myself time again – This is a from a distillery closed in 1993, which considering it only opened in 1974 is one short lived distillery. Grabbed from The Whisky Exchange – this was the bottle I grabbed when I got all those miniatures I did notes on a short while back. Thought about saving for a special occasion, but I still have one special bottle saved for when I hit 300 whisky notes, so decided to treat myself now. The distillery was mainly used for blends so there were never very many single malt bottlings of it around – this one was distilled in 1989 and bottled 2014 at cask strength. It is one of 5922 bottles (number 827 to be exact).