This months whisky, the Cardhu 12 year old comes form the Speyside region of Scotland.
William Cummings was a sneaky chap. 200 years ago in 1811, he started distilling away up Mammoch Hill high above the Spey. In 1824, he had perfected his art, and so applied for a licence for the Cardhu Distillery. Cardhu (black rock in Gaellic), was operated by some canny lassies including his wife Helen and their daughter in law Elizabeth. Elizabeth refurbished the distillery in 1885, selling the stills to William Grant of Glenfiddich distillery and using the funds to buy 3 new sets of stills to supply Johnnie Walker’s burgeoning demand for blended whisky to replace the devastated Congac market decimated by the Phylloxera plagues.
To secure supply of the beautiful backbone of their blend, Johnnie Walker purchased the Cardhu distillery from the Cummins in 1893, and the rest is history. With the growth and growth of Johnnie Walker, and introduction of premium colours, black, gold and blue, the quantity of Cardhu required was also increasing. In Spain, Cardhu as a single malt gained such popularity that combined with demands for the Johnnie Walker blend, supply could no longer match demand. A marketing Guru from Diageo decided to cash in on the Cardhu brand, by changing it to a pure malt but not change the packaging, just that one word, from single malt to pure malt. The whisky was no longer from Cardhu distillery, but a blend of several distilleries, but still bore the Cardhu name, and famous packaging. Dodgy, dodgy, dodgy.
Of course the public worked out they were being duped, and dropped the brand like a sack of potatoes. Just 5 years after the Cardhu went back to being a single malt it is back and is available as our whisky of the month for February.
Cardhu 12 year old is a delightful aromatic, herbaceous whisky, with floral notes like jasmine, rose petal and marshmallow, fruit characters of pear, some leather/saddle aroma.
The pallet is immediately vanilla pod, not unsurprising given its light golden colour would infer it spent its 12 years in ex bourbon barrels. There is a distinct smokey jamon character, which is probably why it is so popular with the Spanish. No peat to speak of.
A wonderful drying finnish that is clean as a whistle. It is easy to understand why Mr Walker was so excited about using this whisky as the base for the premium blends.
It is too good to blend though, and stands alone as a gorgeous light, floral, dry single malt ideal for summer consumption.