Cardhu Gold Reserve House Targaryen

House Targaryen Cardhu Gold Reserve (40%, OB, 2019)

  • ABV: 40%
  • Age: NAS
  • Bottling: OB, Game of Thrones
  • Category: Speyside single malt scotch whisky
  • Cost: £48
  • Origin: Cardhu Distillery
  • Vintage: Undeclared


What they say

Game of Throne House Targaryen – Cardhu Gold Reserve is fueled by the same fiery spirit of the fierce female leadership of Daenerys Targaryen, celebrating legendary women and their unwavering perseverance. The Cardhu Distillery was pioneered by Helen Cumming and her daughter-in-law Elizabeth during the 1800’s, a time when the whisky industry was almost entirely male-dominated.

Cardhu Gold Reserve: A smooth, beautifully structured and well-paced Speyside malt with a rich texture and a balance of sweet fruit, dark chocolate, toffee and spice. A great aperitif!

Official tasting notes:

  • Nose: Shy and soft at first, and beautifully smooth: fresh, yet also mellow. Appetisingly sweet: tinned fruit salad, with waxy red apple skins or orange and apple peel, fresh pear and barley sugar bound together with icing sugar or marzipan. Mixed citrus fruit travel sweets in a round tin, perhaps, above a gently malty cereal base with hints of soft creamy toffee and a developing milk chocolate background. Later, pineapple/tropical fruit notes: ripe bananas and clotted cream balanced by homemade lemonade. Much later, more tropical fruit salad and possibly the faintest memory of smoke. Still shy with a dash of water; the light waxiness increases, and the fruitiness (now more apple-like) becomes more fragrant.
  • Taste: An entrancingly fruity and floral nose, in which fresh citrus and warm notes of baked apple and orchard fruits are backed by malty cereal and toffee, introduces smooth sweetness on the palate and a gently drying, spicy finish
  • Palate: Bigger flavours and drier than the nose suggests. Smooth-textured, with its initial sweetness cut by crisp orange zest. After this there’s a subtle mineral dryness, then aromatic cedar and fine cocoa slowly occupy the mid-palate. With water, the taste is sweeter and less spicy, yet the texture is still smooth and mouth-filling.
  • Finish: Medium in length and warming with peppery spice. Tangy hints of menthol with velvety cocoa tannins and a grassy herbal note. There’s a light saltiness in the drying aftertaste, which has just faint hints of almonds and apples.

What I say

Released to represent House Targaryen in Diageo’s & HBO’s Game of Thrones Single Malt Whisky Collection. This is simply Cardhu’s Gold Reserve expression re-labelled to fit into this collection (1 of only 2, the other being Royal Lochnagar’s 12 Year Old and the remaining collection comprises of all new expressions). I have to admit being a little disappointed (and a lot more disappointed at Lochnagar’s contribution) as new expressions are few and far between for these distilleries. In fact I grabbed a bottle of Gold Reserve when it was released back in 2014, having just killed off a bottle of Cardhu’s 12 Year Old expression and looking to further explore this distillery.

I was pleasantly surprised to hear of this collaboration, whilst many dismissed it as a PR stunt, I have followed Game of Thrones since finally succumbing in or around season 2 – In fact Tyrion imprisoned in the Sky Cell kindled my interest and led to me watching the whole series (and reading the books) avidly. As a big fan of fantasy fiction since my youth, the likes of John R. R. Tolkein, Robert A. Salvatore and Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman being amongst my favourites, I have hugely enjoyed George R. R, Martins books and the fantastic screen adaptation of them.

My tasting notes:

  • Appearance: Sercial madeira gold (9/20), oily, thick meniscus and slow medium tears leaving medium legs.
  • Nose: Fruity, fresh apple and pear, sweet caramel and honey, biscuity barley and cloying vanilla, custard creams and ginger nut or ginger snap biscuits.
  • Taste: Smooth, subtle, toffee, malt and a little zesty citrus and ginger edge or tingle to it, toffee apples dusted with cinnamon.
  • Finish: Medium, Werther’s Original butter-toffee candies, a little drying oak and cinnamon persist.


It has been some time since I last tried Cardhu’s Gold Reserve and I can’t help but feeling it has either improved slightly or my ability to appreciate it has grown. Billed as very approachable, it is hard to argue with that, although this one seems a little spicier in the tail. Good solid stuff and perhaps more than a little of Diageo’s well-meaning intentions branding Cardhu against one of the major protagonist houses. Daenerys seems to have gone from villain to hero and back again during the story and we are yet to find out if she will be triumphant in the end. My feelings for Cardhu have never been that strong, but dependable is my best assertation.

Score 74/100

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Categories: Cardhu, Speyside

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