Editor’s Note: This whisky was provided to us as a review sample by Diageo. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the buy link towards the bottom of this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.
Encompassing an area relative in size to the state of South Carolina, Scotland is home to over 130 malt and grain distilleries. The entire country also has a population relative to the State of Colorado of around 5.5 million. While we are talking about states and whisky, Kentucky is well known for having more barrels aging than the current population, with two barrels maturing for every citizen.
Scotland has four. Adding all of that up, carrying the remainder and showing your work, gives us 20 million casks waiting for just the right moment to be bottled and enjoyed. Of those 20 million casks, 10 million of them will become Johnnie Walkers.
The vast majority of those casks are used for blended whiskies, with Johnnie Walker being the most globally distributed brand. Their Diageo portfolio sibling, Bell’s, is the biggest selling brand in the UK. This unparalleled access to these enormous reserves of whisky has given the Johnnie Walker brand the ability to reach the heights of their success and a great reputation for their premium blends.
Nestled among all of those aging casks are a number of whiskies from distilleries that are no longer with us, but their spirits remain. Dad jokes aside, these “Ghost” whiskies are understandably some of the most intriguing and sought after expressions. This leads us to Limited Edition Expressions. Johnnie Walker Blue Label Ghost and has released four such limited editions so far and have included Ghost whiskies from Brora, Port Ellen, and Glenury Royal. The most recent release features Pittyvaich as the starring “ghost.”
Pittyvaich was first opened in 1974 in a nondescript and utilitarian looking building right next to Dufftown Distillery. It was built for purely commercial purposes and its main function was to help the aforementioned Bell’s keep up with its demand as it was experiencing an incredible period of growth in the mid 1970’s. After an ownership change, a 12-year-old under Pittyvaich’s own label was released in 1991. That notoriety was short-lived as the distillery closed in 1993 and was demolished in 2002. That 12-year-old release is one of the most rarely sighted whiskies. Keep an eye out, for here there be ghosts.
Tasting Notes: Johnnie Walker Blue Label Ghost And Rare Pittyvaich
Vital Stats: 87.6 proof (43.8% A.B.V.). A blend of 8 rare whiskies from Johnnie Walker’s reserves. Ghost whiskies included are Pittyvaich, Port Dundas, and Carsebridge. Rare malt and grain whiskies included are from Mannochmore, Auchroisk, Cragganmore, Strathmill, and Royal Lochnagar. Suggested retail price is $349.99 for a 750ml bottle.
Appearance: Clear, with a bright gold translucent hue. Viscous on the sides of the tasting glass with clearly defined rivulets forming.
Nose: Honeycomb and propolis at a medium approach. Green apple is very apparent with a closer inhale. Some peach and pear notes make a presence at a second inspection. Similar to standing in an orchard in early fall.
Palate: Balanced sweetness with a touch spice. All of the hints that the aroma started with are fully realized when tasted. Honeycomb, green apple, with just a little touch of some floral notes. Cinnamon rounds it off with a little zip of spice on a medium finish.
There probably isn’t a better example of the possibilities of a blended Scotch whiskey. Balance is what is so noticeable about this one, and it is a testament to the skills of a Master Blender to highlight so many different aspects in one expression. I am definitely looking forward to another dram.
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Jason Marshall has spent his career as a bartender advocate and mentor , providing an opportunity for the best new faces and ideas to flourish. The process has given him opportunities to stretch creatively, develop wonderful people who branched out to their own passions, and host cocktail competitions with a...