The distinctive flag used by Helen Cumming of Cardhu’s founding family — one of whisky’s most famous female pioneers — to warn illicit distillers of the approaching excise man in the 1800s now flies proudly above this iconic Speyside distillery once again as its new visitor centre reopens after a multimillion-pound revamp, celebrating the distillery’s 200-year history and legacy as a pivotal part of the Johnnie Walker story.
The state-of-the-art space includes a redesigned immersive storytelling experience with a projection room, whisky tasting kitchen and updated whisky experience tours that details the story of Cumming, who founded the business in 1811.
In 1872, her daughter-in-law Elizabeth Cumming took over its running. In 1893, Elizabeth sold the distillery to Johnnie Walker and Sons on the condition that the Cumming family could continue the day-to-day operation.
The tradition of female leadership has continued at Cardhu, as well as at Diageo and Johnnie Walker today. The team of women who have played a key role in the transformation project, part of a £185 million investment in Scotch whisky tourism by Diageo, includes Cardhu’s distillery manager Roselyn Thomson, brand home manager Laura Sharp, Johnnie Walker chief archivist Christine McCafferty and master blender Emma Walker.
Cardhu’s visitor centre is the latest to open following that of Glenkinchie and Clynelish — an ambitious project that reimagines the traditional whisky tour experience.
The centrepiece of the investment programme, the Johnnie Walker Princes Street global visitor attraction, will open in Edinburgh later this year. It may be 2022 by the time any of us could hope to visit, but it’s sure to be more than worth the wait.
See here for more info.
This article first appeared on June 28, 2021 in The Edge Malaysia.