Whisky Review: Cardhu 14 Year The Scarlet Blossoms of Black Rock

, | February 21, 2022

Editor’s Note: This whisky was provided to us as a review sample by Diageo. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the buy link towards the bottom of this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.

The 2021 Diageo Special Releases are here. The latest collection strays from the repetitive Rare by Nature and delves deep into thematic fables, or Legends Untold. Eight legendary Scottish distilleries are featured in the Special Releases, and the collection includes some of the most expensive whisky since the 2017 collection. 

The mythical creatures relate to the distilleries based on “the hidden gems that can be found in each corner of the Scottish terrain amongst the lochs and rugged highlands.” The black rock ‘Carn Dubh’ in Gaelic transformed into what is known as Cardhu today. The Scarlet Blossoms of Black Rock from the Cardhu is a 14-year-old whisky, but the scarlet blossoms remind me of the red flag Helen Cummings would fly above the farmhouse to warn other distillers in the area about the taxman. Cummings founded the Cardhu Distillery, and when revenuers visited to collect, she made the distillery up to look like a bakery. 

So how did this legend arise? Well, as the fable goes, “upon a hill of blackened rock grew a mysterious tree with scarlet blossoms of irresistible charm. Their sweet aroma of honeycomb and spice was so alluring, it transformed the dark hill into lush abundance. Where crimson petals had fallen, a distillery took root. The spellbinding scent filled the air, infusing Cardhu with its distinctively enchanting character.”

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The Scarlet Blossoms of Black Rock features a beautiful illustration of a grand tree, stoic above a lush landscape. Ken Taylor has captured haunting details of this legend with his masterful artwork. Diageo goes a step further with a QR code that unlocks an immersive tasting experience and gives life to Taylor’s illustration.

Cardhu 14 Year The Scarlet Blossoms of Black Rock review

Cardhu 14 Year The Scarlet Blossoms of Black Rock (image via Malts.com)

Tasting Notes: Cardhu 14 Year The Scarlet Blossoms of Black Rock

Vital Stats: 55.5% ABV. Speyside single malt matured in refill American oak barrels and finished in red wine casks. 750ml $150

Appearance: Pale straw

Nose: Orange water and pomegranate are delicate aromas that delight the nostrils first. Baby powder sits over damp forest floor and wet bark. Jasmine and gardenia give a floral quality to the whisky at the end. 

Palate: The mouthfeel is light with just a bit of oil. It tastes sweet like simple syrup and slightly fruity. Citrus peel and jasmine come through in the middle. The delicate palate then immediately changes to brutal tar and dirt on the finish. The finish has long baking spices to it including clove. Overall, the whisky has a mineral feel to it with amaretto.

The Takeaway


The Scarlet Blossoms of Black Rock is a feisty whisky. It has delicate characteristics but turns on the drop of a hat. The harsh change is a little too much to handle.

User Review
4 (2 votes)


Courtney Kristjana

Courtney Kristjana is a leading whiskey taster in the country. She left a career in Gerontology after an article on Heather Greene inspired her to follow her passion for whiskey. She is studying to become a Master of Scotch and someday hopes she is nominated for the Keepers of the...