The History of Cardhu


John Cumming and his wife lease a farm at Cardow – pronounced ‘Cardoo’ – and like other farmers near the river Spey, they begin small scale distilling.


John Cumming is convicted three times for distilling without a licence – although it would likely be his wife Helen who was the distiller. Neighbours watch for a red flag flying at the Cumming’s home, Helen’s sign an excise officer was lodging with them.


The Excise Act of 1823 reduces duty and farmer-distillers can afford to pay for a license. John Cumming is among the first to buy one. John’s son Lewis has many friends in the whisky industry, and they advise the Cummings to buy new stills for their fledgling distillery. George Smith, founder of Glenlivet, is one such friend – he buys and distributes Cardow’s whisky until the Cummings can find their own brokers.


Lewis takes over the running of the distillery. Though it is described as the country’s smallest, Lewis earns Cardow a strong local reputation.