Cardhu 12 has been an essential Speyside single malt whisky for a lot of us over the years. It doesn't overpromise, but it also doesn't disappoint at its price tag. When Diageo announced the Special Release 2020 bottles, Cardhu 11 Year Old stood out with the price tag and 56.0% abv.
I have to admit that, Diageo has been doing a fantastic job not only by marketing the whisky or the packaging, but also creating different expressions that intrigue both novice and seasoned drinkers.
How Does It Taste?
Citrus dominance takes the front and followed by orchard fruits, toasted bread and dusty malt. The nose opens up to a touch of tropical fruits later on and with water added, malt sweetness hits more. It feels like a fresh summer morning. The palate has a creamy texture that covers the palate. Green apples, cream custard, malt sweetness, golden honey. Simple but expressive. The finish is medium-long with white peppers, oak spices, cinnamon, orange zest. It has a weird dryness that I generally feel with heavily hopped IPAs. I don't like it in beer, but in this whisky it is pleasant.
I liked the spirit forward character of Cardhu 11. The barrels are not overpowering any bit of the spirit and you can actually feel what Cardhu can really offer to you. It is a solid Speyside whisky.
So what is missing? When I first nosed it, the zesty character exploded. The intensity was high but after waiting a minute it all got better. Just like some younger Linkwoods I tried, zest and then orchard fruits!
And of course the price. Special Release comes with a special price tag right? Currently, it is sold for around $110, which in my opinion is quite high for an 11 year old Cardhu, even if it is at cask strength.
I don't regret getting a bottle, but I would think about keeping one.