Like many others, Cardhu was farm with a still. John Cumming, the son of a hill-farmer and grazier, became tenant here in 1811, and soon turned his hand to illicit whisky-making. The location, in hilly country to the north of the Spey, was, in those days, remote. He took out a license in 1824; much of his make was taken by horse and cart to Burghead and shipped to Leith. John died in 1846 and was succeeded by his son, Lewis Cumming, and his wife. At this time the output of the distillery was 240 gallons a week. When Lewis passed away in 1872 his wife Elisabeth supported by her mother-in-law Helen and her two young sons carried on operating the distillery. Seeing the demands for Whisky grow Elisabeth bought new ground not far away from the previous farm and built a new Cardow distillery using the same water sources. It could produce three times more Whisky than the old one.
In the year 1893 Elisabeth made a very important decision: She sold Cardow to John Walker & Sons for 20.500 pounds and ensured her family to hold shares in Walker’s company. She died one year later and didn’t have the chance to see the success of her wise decision: Under the shield of the big company Cardow could stand the hard times caused by the Whisky market crash in 1898. In 1893, the distillery was sold to long-term customer John Walker & Sons on the understanding that the family would still run the distillery and have a seat on the Walker board. The distillery was expanded from two stills to four in 1899 and then up to six in 1960. Since 2011, Cardhu has expanded production from 2.3 million to 3.4 million L.P.A. by operating 24/7.