Cardhu Distillery

Region: Speyside, Scotland. AB38 7RY

Founded: 1824

Status: Active

Owner: Diageo

Water source:  Spring on the Mannoch Hill and the Lyne Burn

Mash tun: 8 tonne stainless stell full lauter with copper dome

Washbacks: 4x Scottish Larch, 4x Douglas Fir, 2x stainless steel

Stills: 3x wash 3x spirit

Capacity: 3.4 million litres per annum


The distillery was set up by John Cumming, who had previously been a whisky smuggler, in 1824. The distillery was sited high up on Mannoch Hill, above the River Spey due to the peat softening the water. The distillery started as farm distillery working on a seasonal basis after the harvest had been gathered. The distillery was mainly run by his wife Helen who used to sell bottles of whisky to passers-by through the window of their farmhouse.

In 1885 the distillery was rebuilt on a new piece of land but continued to stay in the hands of the Cummings, being run by Elizabeth Cumming, the daughter-in-law of Helen Cumming. The stills from the old distillery building were sold to William Grant who set up Glenfiddich distillery. The new building and stills meant that Cardhu could produce triple the amount of whisky it had previously produced. These higher production levels led to Johnnie Walker and Sons buying much of Cardhu’s output to put into their increasingly popular blend.

In 1893 Elizabeth Cumming sold the distillery to Johnnie Walker and Sons on the condition that the Cumming family could continue the day-to-day running of the distillery. Cardhu distillery kept working under these conditions until the onset of the Second World War when wartime restrictions meant that it was harder to use barley for distilling purposes.

In 1960 the distillery’s still-house, mash-house and tun-room were rebuilt, and in 1970 steam coils were introduced to heat the stills and the number of stills was increased to six. Spring water from Mannoch Hill started to be mixed with water from the local Lynne burn to supply the increased production of the distillery.




Our visit: 4th September 2011


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Cardhu Whisky Reviews:

  • cardhu-12-year-old-whisky Cardhu 12 Years Old (40%, OB, +/-2011) - No tasting notes 69/100
  • cardhu-distillery-only-bottling Cardhu Distillery Only (48%, OB, 1,800 Bottles +/-2016) - Interesting, quite a heavy spirit character which actually does Cardhu proud, I suspect this is young and probably matured in refill ex-bourbon casks which haven't overpowered this typically light and fruity spirit? I found myself enjoying this a lt more than the more standard offerings from Cardhu. 85/100
  • Cardhu Gold Reserve (40%, OB, +/-2014) - Whisky Review: Cardhu Gold Reserve Category: Speyside single malt scotch whisky Origin: Cardhu Distillery Bottling: Diageo ABV: 40% Cost: £24.95 What they say The Cardhu family of Speyside single malt scotch whiskies […]