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Cardhu 12 Year Old Single Malt

Well Balanced Speyside Malt

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@VictorReview by @Victor

13th Aug 2011


  • Nose
  • Taste
  • Finish
  • Balance
  • Overall

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Distribution of ratings for this: brand user

Intro: I decided to buy a bottle of Cardhu 12 for several reasons: 1)I was curious about the separate flavour of a malt that served as a big component of the Johnnie Walker blends and that is not often encountered outside of them, 2)Jim Murray rated it at 90/100 pts in his current Whisky Bible, 3)I like both the name and the bottle art, and 4)the bottle was not expensive.

Cardhu is a Speyside distillery owned by Diageo. The 12 year old expression is currently the only malt available from Cardhu. The reviewed bottle has been open for two days.

Nose: Lovely sherried nose with strong floral notes of rosewater and carnation. There is pear, apple, apricot, and slight lemon here as well. Alcohol is surprisingly strong at 40% ABV and a little more than I would like. The scent of malted barley provides a nice backdrop to the other flavours. Overall this is a very enjoyable nose.

Taste: The flavours from the nose translate onto the palate with the addition of a very pleasant peating underpinning the proceedings. The peat was not very noticeable in the nose. This tastes similar to a lot of the Glenrothes malts I have tasted, but with more peat emphasis. The sherry is very nice, and conjures up candied fruits. The barley is pleasant and integrated. Wood flavours are present in the background but don't draw much attention to themselves. There is a lot of flavour here for a 40% ABV malt.

Finish: the fruits and flowers last a medium length, with a pleasant warm slightly sweet peated and sherried ending.

Balance: This is a mild-mannered whisky which has good balance and significant complexity, if you are willing to look for it. There is a lot of contrast within the Cardhu 12 between peat flavours and fruited barley malt flavours. The light lemon citrus here actually reinforces the peat in giving additional balance to the fruited sherried sweetness. I like the result, and I like this whisky.

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sailorman commented

Victor, I really enjoy your reviews. They are great and give us a lot of food (oops... drink) for thought. I tried the Cardhu several years ago and really loved its smoothness, not too complex, but a nice taste in the mouth - a feeling-good single malt. Curiously, Cardhu is not well-known in the U.S. As far as I know, the distillery is very successful in Spain (that's where I found the bottle).

11 years ago 0

Victor commented

Thank you, @sailorman. I was very pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the Cardhu 12, not because I had any negative expectation of it, but only because it has remained so relatively obscure and unavailable as a 'single' malt.

11 years ago 0

AntonioCarvalho commented

Cardhu, for any unknown reason, probably due to its sweetness, is very popular in both Spain and Portugal. It's simply the best seller of the single malts here. I appreciate it very much ( but my favourite is Balvenie, however ).

11 years ago 0

ClanVidela commented

I'm going to Spain in a couple of weeks, will definitely pick this up after reading your review of it! Will probably review it from there as well since I've read it's on of Spain's best selling whiskies. Cheers!

10 years ago 0

Victor commented

Cheers, ClanVidela! I sampled my bottle of Cardhu 12 with an open mind. Clearly, if you read a few reviews on it, and also talk around about it, there are both lovers and haters of this whisky. I found my bottle to be delightful, as I reported in this review. I do think, though, that the balance in Cardhu 12 is quite delicate, and it would be very easy for me to imagine that if a given batch of the Cardhu 12 malt were a bit off from that delicate balance, that the result could easily be a big mess, with a mishmash of flavours adding up to unattractive experience. So far, though, that is not the Cardhu which I have been drinking. None of us really knows what the other guy is drinking unless we have had a sample from the same bottle on the same day.

10 years ago 0

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