Cardhu 12 Years Old (40%, OB, +/-2011)

Cardhu 12 Years Old ~ 40% (Diageo)

40% ABV, £30 for 70cl

Score: 69/100

Cardhu 12 Years Old

What they say:

Cardhu Distillery – previously called Cardow – must be one of the best located distilleries in Speyside. High on the hills on the north side of the Spey Valley with extensive views to the south, it is also the home of Johnnie Walker, the number one blended Scotch whisky in the world.

The malt itself – which is presented in an elegant decanter with a beechwood stopper – is pretty typical of a Speyside malt. It is highly approachable – smooth, sweet, mellow and uncomplicated and has good body and length.


Spirity nose with sweet apple blossom and heathery aromas. Well-balanced palate with a warming, dryish finish.


40% ABV


Golden honey.


At full strength, heady, nose prickle, pear drops and tightly integrated heather, resin and sweet honey-nut notes. Enticing. Intriguing. With a little water, still harmonious but less pronounced, allowing some malt-cereal, soft, spicy wood, moorland and faint traces of wood-smoke to appear.


Soft, pleasing, medium.


Palate Well balanced, smooth mouthfeel; short punch, sweet and fresh, then a pronounced drying effect. Enjoyable at any time, with little or no water.


Quite short. Some lingering sweet smoke in the attractive, drying aftertaste.


cardhu 12

What I say:

Producing about 3.4 million litres of spirit per annum, the majority of Cardhu goes into blends such as the UK’s best selling blend, Johnnie Walker Red Label. A little may find its way into JW Black Label also. Cardhu distillery is the spiritual home of Johnnie Walker and the 3rd distillery we ever visited. Cardhu is infamous in Spain and were it not in Scotland would probably be declared Spain’s home single malt. As a result of the few percent distillate each year that isn’t blended being shipped directly to Spain, Cardhu was little known as a single malt in the UK up until fairly recently. Cardhu distillery also caused a little controversy by meeting demand with bottlings labelled ‘Pure Malt’ implying it had been mixed with malt from other distilleries. Later this was switched to ‘Single Malt’ though perhaps with little difference in flavour, sparking huge debate over the labelling and provenance of Single Malts. Thankfully today this furore has died down and been long forgotten – hence it’s reappearance on UK supermarket shelves perhaps?


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