Cardhu 12 year old bottled 1980's


Frankly I know the fact I haven’t written about Cardhu at Whisky Rover until now is unforgiveable. Piece by piece I’m trying to fill in these cracks online and ensure a varied coverage of all things whisky. Therefore the black hole around Cardhu has been conquered.
 
I’m not sure why I haven’t written about the distillery and its whiskies until now. It’s a big seller for Diageo with its 12 year old and no age Amber Rock proving popular. Hell, I’ve even been to the distillery when on Speyside for the festival and had a quick look around the shop. The tours were booked out and time was against us, so Cardhu snuck away once again.
 
We’re putting it right with this review of a 1980’s Cardhu 12 year old which I purchased at the Dornoch Castle Whisky Bar. I’m sure when I did this it was their malt of the month (or is it week?) at a ridiculous £3 a nip. A double later in the comfort of my own home and we’re ready for all things Cardhu.
 
The distillery was established in 1824 by local farmer John Cumming, who by all accounts was well known to the local authorities. Being convicted at least three times for illicit distilling it’s surprising he had much time for actual farming or a new venture. However when the Excise Act came into being in 1823, John was one of several farmers who went legitimate with Cardhu that was often referred to as Cardow.
 
Glenmorangie may have used the sixteen men of Tain as a popular imaging tool until recently. However historically when considering this number, I tend to think of the sixteen farmers including John Cumming who possessed the vision, expertise and wealth to establish their own distilleries and end their illicit ways. From this crop of fledging distillers, we today can recognise their DNA in names such as Cardhu, Glenlivet, Macallan, Mortlach and five other distilleries in the region.
 
For many years Cardhu retained its links with the illicit ways of distilling, remaining very much a small farm endeavour. In 1885 expansion arrived at Cardhu with the old equipment being sold onto William Grant who was in the process of building a certain distillery called Glenfiddich. Cardhu distillery remained in family hands until 1893 when it merged with John Walker & Sons; a name that was become synonymous with the distillery. Although the family retained day-to-day control of the distillery it remained relatively intact until a large portion was demolished in the 1960’s. Today whilst it retains popularity as a single malt, the majority of Cardhu is destined for the Johnnie Walker blends where it’s a key component.

 
My original idea was to either piece together a Cardhu vertical, or this 1980’s edition versus the current 12 year old. Sadly that’s not to be for now, but expect more reviews from this distillery in 2017 and I’ll have to get back on Speyside for a tour.
 
Colour: a mellow tan
Nose: yeasty at first with memories of brown bread. More milk chocolate with a caramel centre and walnut topping. A hint of strawberry. Almonds, Pinot Grigio with egg shells and a floral element. 
Taste: very light but offers real poise and confidence. Coffee beans and a short pastry with a hint of smoke and muted vanilla beans. A chocolate finish takes us to the end of this Cardhu. 
 
Overall: a crowd pleaser that's for sure. Nothing to dislike here and a confidence in its characteristics that have an echo of history running straight through the whisky. I'll have to source a bottle.

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