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Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Cardhu 14 year old 2006, Special Release 2021

With today's post, I am doubling this blog's Cardhu review grand total. You're welcome! In fact, this is only the third Cardhu I've ever tried. Most recently I consumed the GoT House of Schmargaryanne Gold Forgettable (man, what a limp collection that was). And a decade ago, during a head-to-head of Cardhu 12 against Johnnie Walker Green Label, JW pantsed the 'dhu repeatedly. Thus my expectations for this Diageo Special Release are not high. But I'm trying here, people, I'm trying!

Distillery: Cardhu
Ownership: Diageo
Range: Special Release
Age: at least 14 years old (2006 - 2021)
Maturation: refill American oak + red wine cask finish
Outturn: ?????
Alcohol by Volume: 55.5%
Chillfiltered? No
Colorant Added? Not much if any
(from a bottle split)


The nose is...a nose. It starts with a mix of raw grain, sesame seeds, and clay. Then things get wild. Suave Naturals raspberry conditioner (do they still make that?), toasted coconut, perfume, and steel wool show up together like a K-Pop crew from hell. Then orange blossoms and a salty broth call out from the background. The palate arrives alive. Moderate amounts of sweet (golden syrup), floral (blossoms), and salt (salt). Hint of lime, a touch of Chambord. Not much oak. Cherry juice, chile oil, and white jellybeans roll through the finish.

That was a thing. Now with water!

DILUTED to 46%abv, or 1¼ tsp of water per 30mL whisky

At this strength, the nose has more malt, less wine. More flowers, less perfume. Something coastal arises in the distance. Much better palate too. Tart fruits take over the foreground, while the sweets (golden syrup and butterscotch) retreat to the back. A gentle sweetness finishes it off.


Though I cannot say this whisky has inspired me to try a fourth Cardhu, it was still better than the two I'd tried previously. In fact it's pretty good once diluted, though a certifiable hot mess when neat. A lot of these bottles remain on the shelves and, judging by the prices, retailers don't know what to do with the damned things.

Availability - 
The First World
Pricing - $150-$400 (USA), $120-$250 (Europe)
Rating - 83 (diluted only)