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Johnnie Walker Blue Label heroes ‘ghost’ Speyside distillery, Pittyvaich

The fourth release in Johnnie Walker Blue Label’s Ghost and Rare series has arrived in Australia, celebrating one of Scotland’s most short-lived distilleries.

Johnnie Walker Blue Label Ghost and Rare Pittyvaich follows the Glenury Royal (2019), Port Ellen (2018) and Brora (2017) editions.

The Speyside ‘ghost’ distillery of Pittyvaich opened in 1974 only to be shut down 18 years later, in 1993.

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Some of its last remaining stocks are at the core of the latest Ghost & Rare release, complemented by whisky from ghost distilleries Port Dundas and Carsebridge.

Johnnie Walker Blue Label Ghost and Rare Pittyvaich

The limited edition blend also includes rare liquid from Speyside distilleries Mannochmore, Auchroisk, Cragganmore and Strathmill, as well as Highland distillery Royal Lochnagar.

“It may only have thrived for a short period, but the whisky laid down by this distillery [Pittyvaich] is something unmistakable,” said outgoing Johnnie Walker master blender, Jim Beveridge.

“We have waited patiently for that perfect moment when we turn our thoughts to this fleetingly rare gem of the whisky world.

“Its distinct autumnal character has always intrigued us and fired our imagination to create something really special that would pay tribute to the whisky makers of this Speyside distillery.”

Workhorse distillery

In its short lifetime, Pittyvaich was a ‘workhorse distillery’ focused on producing malt whisky for use in Bell’s blended whisky, Diageo national whisky ambassador Katie Nagar told Drinks Adventures.

“Pittyvaich was a malty, nutty, spicy style of new make, because that’s the flavour profile Bell’s required,” she says.

“But when they were making Pittyvaich over that short 18 years, no-one would have expected to have that whisky available for extended maturation.

“Spending that long in American oak has really brought in some beautiful toffee, vanilla, lactone-type influence,” Nagar says.

Diageo national whisky ambassador Katie Nagar speaking at the launch of Ghost & Rare Pittyvaich

She said that while the Johnnie Walker blending team do not divulge the exact percentage of each whisky component used in Ghost & Rare releases, the amount of the named distillery is significant.

“They dial up the ghost distillery that they are showcasing, using 13 times the volume of its liquid that they would normally,” she says.

“They then choose whiskies to supplement and bolster those flavours.”

Johnnie Walker Blue Label Ghost and Rare Pittyvaich offers the sweet fruit notes of fresh apple combined with the autumnal flavours of Pittyvaich, which are balanced with the delicate subtle sweetness of honeycomb and soft wood from Port Dundas and Carsebridge.

Other rare whiskies bring aromas of dark fruit and berries before revealing gentle butterscotch, stewing orchard fruits and a dash of cinnamon.

Ghost and Rare Pittyvaich (43.8 per cent ABV) is available now in Australia from selected independent bottle shops and whisky specialists at a RRP of $520 for each individually numbered 700ml bottle.

More:
Dr Nicholas Morgan, whisky writer, historian and Diageo veteran: S11E5
Morris Whisky, a major force in Australian single malt: S10E4
Lark Distilling MD Geoff Bainbridge on Shene deal & more: S11E4

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