While it might be infamously known for the “pure malt controversy” from the early 2000s, Cardhu has been in almost continual production since its founding by John and Helen Cumming, though for much of its history was known as Cardow after the original farm the distillery started on in 1824. There is a great deal of history around Helen and her daughter-in-law Elizabeth Cumming used in their marketing, for both women ran the distillery during early years to develop and refine the character of the whisky. Around the turn of the 20th century, Cardhu was sold to Johnnie Walker. Cardhu was for many years one of the smallest distilleries in Scotland and has been a staple in Johnnie Walker blends ever since. The current iteration of the Cardhu 12 year began in 2006 and is part of a range that includes the 12, 15, and 18 year single malts, plus two with No Age Statements.
Operating continually for over 180 years, Glenfarclas is one of the big players in Speyside, its six stills (3 wash, 3 spirit) are the largest in the region with a capacity of 3.5 million liters per year. Even more impressive is, in a time of proliferating No Age Statement malts, this distillery has an extremely wide range of age statement whiskies in constant production. While they have a few older bottlings like a 25, 30 and 40 year, they also have many younger offerings like 10, 12, 15, 17 and 21 year whiskies that are, relatively speaking, very affordable. This expression, like many Glenfarclas malts, is aged exclusively in ex-sherry casks.
Though the village of Craigellachie may be more famous as the home of The Macallan, as well as the confluence of the rivers Spey and Fiddich, it is also home to the Craigellachie Distillery. It has generally flown under the whisky radar due to the fact that its output has always gone into blends, specifically Dewar’s (the distillery is owned by Bicardi but managed directly by Dewar & Sons). Thankfully, a few single malt expressions have been put out as part of Dewar’s Last Great Malts series, which focuses on new expressions and malts never released before. Aside from being uncompromising in taste, the distillery is also known for the use of the unique worm tubs, a call back to an earlier time in whisky production.