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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Tuesday Review: Cardhu 12 Year Single Malt Scotch

By John Barecki

Cardhu 12 Year Old Single Malt Scotch is allegedly the creation of the first female malt producer in Scotland. Helen and John Cummings sited their first still at Cardow farm on Mannoch hill, which sits high above the river spey. According to local and family tradition, the distilling process was carried out by Helen and, after her death, her son's wife Elizabeth Robertson took up the reigns and carried on the pioneering work.

Cardhu 12 Year is no stranger to many whisky drinkers, being one of the main single malts in Johnny Walker blended whisky. The distillery went through only a couple of changes in its past. It survived WWII, functioning on a smaller scale because of barley rationing and yet still went on to become a very popular dram. In fact, in the early 2000s, stocks were being depleted quicker than they could be replenished. In response, Cardhu's parent company Diageo decided to replace the single malt with a blended malt, but the "pure malt" label angered consumers so much so that Diageo decided to pull this packaging from the market for fear of blemishing the single malt designation.

This malt is bottled at 40% ABV (80 proof). Now, the last two whiskys I sampled came in at around 92 to 96 proof, so the initial big boisterous alcohol punch seemed somewhat muted on this one. At first pour I noticed a mouthwatering character, fresh sweet barley, light herbal qualities and just a touch of smoke. It was almost too smooth on the palate, with soft fruity citrus and vanilla followed by a lingering light rhubarb sweetness that finished with a well-rounded dryness, punctuated by another touch of smoke at the end.

This is an enjoyable, easy-drinking single malt, with a well rounded "light" collection of flavors flourishing throughout. If you are looking for that high quality, everyday sipper this one hits it on the head, and at $39.99/750ml, it is not going to strain your budget.

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