History of Cardhu Distillery


John and Helen Cumming sited their first still at Cardow Farm on the Mannoch Hill, high above the River Spey.


John Cumming took out a license under the new Excise Act.


John and Helens son Lewis took over the lease on the farm when his father passed away aged 72.


Lewis continued to develop the flavour of Cardow but was still selling in small quantities due to the size of the distillery which was not bigger a good sized smugglers bothy.
John and Helens son Lewis took over the lease on the farm when his father passed away aged 72.


Elizabeth Cumming, Helen's daughter-in-law, took over the management of the distillery in when her husband died and ran it with energy and foresight.


Helen Cumming who distilled the first batch of Cardhu died at the age of 97.


Under Elizabeth's direction, a new piece of land was acquired on which the distillery was rebuilt. Stills and other equipment from Old Cardow were sold for £120 on 22 March 1886 to William Grant for Glenfiddich, the distillery he was building in Dufftown.


Elizabeth and her son John sold the distillery to John walker & Sons of Kilmarnock for £20,500 on the 19th September. Elizabeth Cumming died suddenly on the 19th May 1894. A local paper stated that she was “a true friend of all the poor”. John Cumming built a new family home overlooking the valley of the Spey in Aberlour calling the new house The Dowans.


A new station was built at Knockando allowing the distribution of Cardhu more cost effective. Stills were increased from two to four, a larger mash tun was put in and the tun room was extended to accommodate additional wash-backs.


The Walker family were continuing to improve and expand the distillery with a building from drying draff, condensers replaced the worm tubs and a magnificent steam engine must have been installed at the same time as the boiler.


All malt whisky distilleries had been closed by Government order to conserve stocks of barley. Production re-started in October 1919 after almost 2 and a half years.


John Cumming died on the 5th January aged 69.


Demolition of the greater part of the distillery began in June. Equipment was installed to work at a higher output, greater convenience and economy of working and at the same time safeguarding the character of the whisky. Two more still were added to take the number to six in total. Coal was no longer used when all six stills converted to internal heating by steam from an oil fired boiler.


A long-standing source of confusion was resolved in when the distillery’s name was changed from Cardow to Cardhu.


Cardhu Visitor Centre Opens.


The launch of Cardhu Special Cask Reserve. Each small volume batch is carefully selected and numbered as shown on the bottle and carton. It carries no age statement.


Cardhu continues to be successful and with annual sales of more that 3 million bottles it is one of the best selling single malt in the world. Our Visitors Centre location is unrivalled; situated on a small hill overlooking Ben Rinnes, so why not come along and see how one of the finest malt whisky’s in the world is made.

To find out more, please visit our distillery.

To find out more, please visit our distillery.

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