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Cardhu 12 Year Old Single Malt

Average score from 11 reviews and 77 ratings 78

Cardhu 12 Year Old Single Malt

Product details

  • Brand: Cardhu
  • Bottler: Distillery Bottling
  • ABV: 40.0%
  • Age: 12 year old

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Cardhu 12 Year Old Single Malt

A staple in whisky lore, available almost anywhere and unexpensive for a single malt, Cardhu and its iconic bottle are linked to the very idea of scotch itself. Let's review it.

An intense amber pour that yields a citrus and spicy aroma, the likes of mandarin, orange peel, cinnamon, bubble gum... There's also bread and tobacco. Very nice scents, not too sweet, not too peaty.

It restrains itself when starting the sip (it'd probably benefit from a slightly higher ABV), then develops midpalate crispness and umami tones that structure it as you drink it. Quite long-lasting finish with an aftertaste of melon that lingers for a while. I like it.


Whisky lovers like you and me sometimes forget about what I would call ‘the basics’. We are so spoiled with the liquid nectar that we no longer stand still to try the stuff we all started with – well, at least I am guilty of this. Returning to the basics is actually a good idea, so let me set an example. Today I will try the Cardhu 12, the heart of many a Johnnie Walker blend and very popular in southern Europe.

Very sweet and mildly floral nose on citrus fruit, banana, apples and sweet malt. Some vanilla wafers and sultanas, a fruit salad with a mildly oaky touch. Very innocent but inviting at the same time.

On the palate, this is a liquid fruit salad with apples, pears, mandarin and green grapes. A hint of papaya and even some pineapple, upholstered with some ginger, lightly toasted oak and floral honey. Very quaffable, very summery, very approachable.

The finish might be somewhat short, but a bittersweet note makes is quite pleasant.

A card players’ whisky if ever there was one. Underestimate by many, in my opinion. Quite the bargain at only 30 EUR.


I was really impressed because this really hasn't notes like anything I've had before. Take my review with a grain of salt as I'm not an experienced reviewer either. :)

  • Nose: coffee, light earth, sweet, plum, complex. Something I can't put my finger on, herbal?
  • High: root vegetables, some burn, light wood, evolving tastes leaving me very satisfied with the complexity
  • Low: plum, deep, heavy, long, sweet

­Nose – Sweet, honey, floral notes, grass, plum jam, some green apple and a slight citrus note.

­Palate – Sweet fruits initially, followed by a floral edge, some heather, then spices and a lot of warming malty flavours, followed by a citrus sourness and bitter green oak towards the end.

Finish - Sour and dry, warming oak, not too long with some smoke later on.

It's nice. But I'm usually looking for a bit more than nice with a single malt. No big, complex flavours particularly jump out at you, not much development on the palate and a pretty short finish. Nevertheless, it is perfectly acceptable as an easy drinking whisky.

A score of 64 would indicate that you think it is disgusting stuff and should go straight down the sink, not that it is "nice" "pleasant" and "perfectly acceptable as an easy drinking whisky." Sounds more like at least mid 70s.


This bottle has been open a couple of years. According to some professional writers this malt/brand has taken a bit of nose dive in quality recently. I hope not as this bottle is running low! A very enjoyable easy drinking dram. A little lacking in punch perhaps and would benefit from a being bottled at a higher percentage.
Nose: Soft sweet barley some honey and notes of citrus and peaches. The very lightest whiff of smoke imaginable. Taste: Unctuously sweet. Deft balance of barley sweetness and sherry. Rich creamy mouth feel. Finish: Long rich with the whiff of smoke returning.


This is the base for the Johnny walkers. Owned by the conglomerate Diageo, Cardhu 12 is a "run of the mill" Speyside single malt that is used for their blends. Interestingly, its the #1 selling whisky in Spain. When first sipped, I tasted JW Black Label all over it, but way smoother and sweeter. Its delicate, light to medium body, over-ripen apples,hints of oranges, lots of caramel and honey, oak, and the faintest of smoke. Its a very drinkable whisky that will have your buddies asking for more, but for the hardcore whisky drinker, it can be easily forgettable.


The Cardhu 12 year old is another good reminder for me that there's good things outside Islay. It is also a good example delicate sherry taste, that doesn't strike me down right at the faceoff. Cardhu 12 is absolutely nice and smooth but with a surprisingly stunning alcohol feel in it.

Like Blessed Fruit the movie, Cardhu gives you a good mix of sweet and sour. Emphasis on the sweet side, kinda like the main character Molly in Blessed Fruits fantasy skits, where she's imagining what life could be.

Blessed Fruit was a mix of different kinds of storytelling and that's just what Cardhu 12 year old is. Only Cardhu does it better.

Nose: Subtly sweet and very rich. Apples and pears come across with a touch of malted barley.

Taste: The apples and pears with barley come striking in the taste as well with mild sherry and soft peat. This one's just faintly smoky.

Finish: In midway the sweetness turns into dry sherry with very small hints of smoke.

Balance: Well balanced, smooth and round. Sweetness and dryness combined together nicely.

Thanks everyone, nice to see that this got your attention! I also was surprised on the low average rating because all my Finnish friends seem to like this one too...then again, Glenfiddich 15 got only 64 from me (with the average of 83)...just matters of taste.

@rigmorole I'd also say this is complex but the finish isn't the strongest part. Well, it isn't bad either.

@Victor Thanks, great to hear that, especially coming from you. My short reviews ain't nothing compared to your accurate and capturing descriptions.

I've almost bought this so many times. Every time I go into the liquor shop by the train station in my area I eyeball this bottle thinking 'Should I pick this up?'... After reading this review... I think I will!


When I sampled Cardhu, I had it as part of a tasting flight at a pub. I selected Cardhu from the list, which was supposedly organized from sweet and fruity to dark and peaty. Cardhu was the last listed, so I assumed it would be peaty. I was wrong. It seemed rather bland in fact. I couldn't get any unique flavours coming out at me. It all seemed to blend together. It was good, mind you, but I expected a more complex scotch than I got. The finish was also somewhat disappointing; the flavours didn't linger nearly as much as I would have liked. Maybe reading it last on that list got my hopes up, but then again the person I was with suggested it as well. I would probably still buy a bottle, but I think I'd keep it to drink with someone who doesn't like their whisky as dark as I do, or someone who prefers a smoother drink.

This was recommended to me by a girl at a liquor store. Needless to say, I didn't buy it. Thanks for your review. It's quite helpful as I've been tempted ever since to try it. Now, I won't be tempted any longer. The price is certainly more than reasonable.

@rigmorole, you're very welcome. I do think there are better scotch whiskies to fret over than this one.


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.

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.

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.


I have had this bottle for a little while now, but I kept it up at the local cigar shop, to enjoy while burning down a stick with friends (new and old). I never really gave it a proper review, as I never brought it home to enjoy. Well, I was in the other day and noticed the bottle was very nearly empty, so I figured if I didn't bring it home now, it was going to go the way of the do-do bird and never get reviewed.

I've finally found the time to sit down with a dram, and give it the attention it deserves, so here goes:

The color is pure sunlight, and the body in the glass appears heavy.

Nose: As I have been writing the intro, the sweet malty aroma has been filling my nostrils! This whisky has a wonderfully "malty" aroma, indeed! Now for the proper nosing: Plenty of flora on the nose, with some ripe fruit as well (pear, honeycrisp apple?) There is a malty base to this whisky, with just a bit of sea air coming out in the background. The nose is really well-balanced, much better than I remember (could have been all that cigar smoke in the air!) I'm looking for any trace of smoke, but I just can't seem to find any. No peat. Nothing offensive. I'm reminded of lavender and lilac. Swirling the whisky after letting it sit reveals a bit of barley/grain. I'm getting just a bit more sea air, but no amount of oak. This really has a nice nose on it!

Body: Light body, with a watery feel. No real structure that holds up.

Palate: A faint bit of spice hit the front of the tongue. Not lively at all. A steady flavor of grain and herbs.

Finish: medium-long, with a very malty finish. The fruit is gone. The sea air is missing. Spices? Yeah, a little. I go back to the nose, and there it is: ripe fruit and a bit of sea air. I go back for a taste: not very lively in the mouth, with a strong malty finish. Just a bit of spice coming out on the finish, but not a lot. The finish is a bit "gritty", coating my mouth with an oily texture. I swish my tongue about trying to clean off the roof of my mouth, but its not working. That taste is just stuck there...

For as nice of a nose this whisky has, the flavors just don't show up at all on the palate. I think I might just sit here and nose it for the rest of my time. I would enjoy it more than drinking it. Hmmm... I've still got a full dram's worth of liquid in the bottle (which may be the nicest part of this whisky, as the bottle is really sharp!)

I poured most of this bottle into other people's glasses at the cigar shop. I confess this was not just an act of hospitality, but I just didn't really care for this whisky, so I wanted the bottle gone as quickly as possible! Near the end of the bottle, I actually brought up an Aberlour 10yr for myself and other whisky enthusiasts to drink, and gave the Cardhu away to those who knew no better (like the chap who shot it like a cheap tequila!) Oh well, what did I care, it was only Cardhu... ;)

Frankly, this isn't my cup of tea. I think I made that clear. However, if you like a whisky that is heavy on the malt/grain flavors and light on the honey/vanilla flavors, this could be your perfect whisky!


That sounds really nice.

I have to admit that I agree with you on the Cardhu. It is not really my cup of tea either.

I went in to my local liquor store to by some Laphroaig Quarter Cask. The guy proceeded to steer me away from that and into Cardhu 12 instead. I get home and try it and I was very disappointed. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't offensively bad in anyway. It just lacked in the taste department if you ask me. I could have easily list a dozen selections that I would have preferred to drink at that price point.

On another note, I wish I had a nice cigar shop like that. As for me, we have a whisky club at work. On fridays at 5 we all get together and drink a bottle. 1 person brings something each week and we rotate. Its quite nice and a much cheaper way to try nice whisky.


Well, its a cigar shop with a large lounge area in the front, and walk-in humidor in the back. In the humidor, they have a china cabinet with some really nice cigars in the glass case (top). In the bottom of the cabinet, they allow select customers to use that space as a storage cabinet for our whisky. At times, there is anything from Jack Daniels to Balvenie 21yr Port Wood, and everything in between. Everyone respects each other's whisky, but the habit is to share when you are there. If you get stingy with your whisky, they might not let you store it there (its kind of a service to the shop, allowing customers to share with each other and building community). Its my favorite place to go!

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