Cardhu Speyside WhiskyCardhu, Diageo’s best selling single malt Scotch whisky, was originally founded in 1811 by a notorious whisky smuggler called John Cumming. The Cardhu distillery sits high on the Northern banks of the river Spey in Moraytown, overlooking the imposing mountain range, Ben Rinnes. John licensed the distillery a year after the Excise Act of 1823, thereby ending his illicit operation.
Cardhu was purchased for £20,500 in 1893 by John Walker and Sons, who latterly became purveyors of the renowned Johnnie Walker blends. In 1930, the distillery was acquired by Distillers Company Ltd who later became part of Diageo. Today, Diageo use the vast majority of the Cardhu spirit in their Johnnie Walker blends and less than a third is matured and bottled as single malt.
Following the massive demand for Cardhu Scotch whisky and the resultant difficulties in meeting said demand, Diageo vatted the Cardhu malt with that from other distilleries, naming the whisky Cardhu Pure Malt. This generated heated debate as to the definitions surrounding the terms ‘single malt’ and ‘vatted/blended’ and as to what was to be considered a ‘pure malt’. Today, there is but one independent bottling, from Signatory, though there is a good range of single malt, as well as the Cardhu Pure Malt, which, it has been alleged, includes some whisky from Glendullan.
In 2004, Cardhu Pure Malt was withdrawn and replaced with Cardhu 12 Year Old single malt the following year. That was then joined by Cardhu Special Cask Reserve. Today, Cardhu continues to act as ‘home’ for Johnnie Walker, complete with visitor’s centre. It works a seven day week, producing 3.4 million litres of alcohol.