Cardhu, which means ‘black rock’, is situated at Knockando on the Craigellachie to Grantown road, very much in the heart of Speyside. The distillery was first licenced in 1824 by one John Cumming, the owner of Cardow farm. The distillery was made famous by John Cumming’s daughter in-law, Elizabeth, who rebuilt the distillery in 1872. This made her the first female distiller in Scotland, and her hospitality had a glowing reputation. Diageo continue this hospitality today as Cardhu is now the spiritual home of Johnnie Walker. ‘Cardow’ is the anglicised name for Cardhu and occasionally independent bottlers use this name, as did the owners Diageo for a brief period in late 2003 to early 2004. The vatted/pure malt controversy made Cardhu famous, and might yet make the short-lived red pure malt expression a collectors item.
An elegant Cardhu that takes time to reveal its delicate, fruity and rich character, repaying a little thoughtful contemplation. The bouquet is slow to give of its secrets, with mere hints of a fruity richness and spicy complexity to come. The palate ventures forth and quite viscous straight. Cooling, then peppery and slightly charred notes. The finish is smooth, light and slightly drying, with attractive bitter chocolate end.