You may be surprised to learn that there is only one “Lake” in the Lake District (Really, they’re all mostly “Meres” and “Waters”, look it up….), which is Bassenthwaite Lake. You may be less surprised to learn that since opening in 2014, The Lakes Distillery has been happily nestled on its shores! Fervently producing their own Gin and bottling “The One” Blend, while patiently waiting for their own whisky to come of age.
And come of age it has! Whiskymaker, Dhavall Gandhi, debuted Whiskymaker’s Reserve No.1 in September 2019, and it seems that he’s reluctant to take his foot off the gas as since then, No.2 and No.3 have followed in the space of mere (not “Lake” – see what I did then?) months.
Three bottlings formed from a plethora of different cask types and intended to showcase the art of maturation and blending. A bold and ambitious intention for an inaugural bottling, to say the least! Eddie has managed to get some samples to me, so let’s see how far they’ve got in terms of fulfilling this most righteous of objectives!
Whisky Makers Reserve No.1
Abv – 60.6% ABV
Maturation – PX and red wine oak casks, comprising American, Spanish and French oak
Medium pronunciation with wood character soon drowning any spirity youthfulness. Vanilla and cedar wood with sticky dry fruits and dark cocoa nubs. With water, there’s a very feint suggestion of tropical fruit
Much more in the way of spice, cinnamon, nutmeg, mace and sticky fruitcake sprinkled with candied orange zest. Water unveils a more zingy lemon citrus note.
Medium to Long, with creamy feel
ABV – 60.9% ABV
Maturation – PX, red wine and bourbon casks
Peanut brittle, and gentler with the wood spice this time. Then honey with a far-off waxy inflection. Water thins the honey and adds very slight pepper.
Sweetness from treacle takes the lead then the spices rise and warm once more. Very slight char influence on top of chewy currents. Water tones down the “Chary” note and allows some red berries to sing.
Medium – long once more with a slightly thinner feel than its predecessor.
ABV – 54% ABV
Maturation – PX, Oloroso, Cream Sherry and red wine casks
Oh, husky eastern spices initially, the slight suggestion of orange rind and milk chocolate to end. Water washes out the spice and reveals a tutti fruity party!
A balanced wonder through honey, toffee, raisin, fig and lemon est. Then the quilting of lighter dry wood spices to bind nicely. Adding water mirrors the nose experience and brings mango, pineapple, and papaya to the party.
Medium length with the buzz of the spice leading to another creamy coating.
Ok, the claim from the Lakes was…
“to showcase the art of maturation and blending.”
Well, consider that these first three releases cannot be more than 5 years old and I’d tend to fall on the “agree” side of the claim!
One thing is clear, any issues with the possibility of unpleasant “youthful” characteristics in the spirit have been expertly managed by wood policy and blending. I feel that there is an upward curve here, with No.3 especially developing more fresh character with water and letting more of the base spirits potential take the lead.
There is also a robust “thickness” to the texture of the spirit, which is the obvious uniting factor between these whiskies, this could surprise anyone of the opinion that “Whisky gets lighter the further south you go”. So fair play to them for having some backbone in the DNA of their spirit!
These whiskies are a MORE than passable first attempt and I’m looking forward to seeing what they have in store for us in the future!
As ever folks, it’s not up to me to tell you what to like and what not to like, find out for yourselves why don’t you!
The Lakes Whiskymaker’s Reserve No.3 can be had from The Lakes Distillery website;
or at all good indie retailers that have stock!