The mastermind behind The Lakes is Paul Currie of Arran Distillers fame [WLP]
The Lakes distillery is a busy resort and tour places get booked up weeks in advance. Though we turn up unannounced we are generously accommodated. Before the tour, we get to try a few things.
The Lakes The One PX finish  Ob. [btl #3036/5500] 46.6% WB83
- C: Thank goodness for the very decent abv strength because it’s a straight & very soft blend. With a touch of husky-dry sulphur, those first-fill sherry casks are talkative but there’s a fair balance.
Scores 80 points
Confusingly there are lots of Ones. Here’s another One:
The Lakes The One Fine blended whisky  Ob. First Edition Port cask finished 46.6%
This contains some of The Lakes single malt. The official blurb tells us: ‘This release of The One is a singular blend of The Lakes Single Malt and select grain and malt whiskies. This bottle is non-chill filtered and bottled at natural colour. This blend was finished for one year in first-fill Tawny Port Casks from Portugal, personally sourced by Dhavall‘ [Lakes].
- C: Very different profile to the PX finished One and a very soft presentation overall. I’d have guessed 40% not 46.6%. With a longer finish, the [port] casks are prominent.
Scores 78 points
46.6% is The Lakes signature strength.
- C: This works just fine. Tasty, accessible/rounded blended malt
Scores 80 points.
We grab some delicious food in the bistro before our distillery tour with Phil who gets the prize for the first guide I’ve heard mention the fourth vital ingredient that goes into whisky.
The Lakes distillery building is an old dairy farm built in the 1850’s. Paul Currie came across it in 2014 and knew it was ‘the one’. Extensive restoration involved some walls being completely dismantled and rebuilt.
A beautifully produced tour video focuses on the Derwent – a river of oaks once heavily occupied by the Romans and one of the fastest rivers in Europe.
- The master distiller is ex-Macallan’s Dhavall Gandhi.
- Zero ppm.
- Average fermentation time is 90 hours.
- The stills are made by Archibald McMillan though a sign also credits Holme Dodsworth who are importers & distributors of non-ferrous metals. The wash still is called Susan whilst the spirit still is named Rachel.
- Unusually, there are two condensers per still, one copper, one stainless steel. I’m led to believe it’s an either/or situation but I’d love more insight.
The fun begins as the new make gets passed around. A few people start freaking out whilst others perform some excellent gurning.
The Lakes new make spirit  Un-Ob. abv unknown
- N: Soft slightly fruity spirit with little if any copper tones.
- T&C: Really soft and welcoming raisin-y fruit cake spirit. You can see why this spirit lends itself to sherry cask maturation, mainly sherry-seasoned PX casks by design.
In the filling store we get to stick our noses into some bung holes, an activity which unlike the new make, always produces smiles. Maturation at The Lakes sees PX sherry casks in the main alongside some ex-bourbon and occasional finishing experiments.
Production is currently around 240,000 lpa but the distillery intends to triple production once 8 more washbacks [the bottle neck in the chain], are installed in one of the existing warehouses.
Back at the ranch we get to try more! Good tour this.
Yet another One!! I remember trying a ‘One British’ back in 2016 and loving it [85 points], and the next year 76 points [WLP]. As the ‘British’ moniker would suggest, this is a blended whisky using malt & grain whiskies from England and Scotland.
- N,T&F: Coming across as 100% bourbon matured. I find this One young, neutral and a little sour. Water can make it vanish.
- C: Clean young column still vibes, on a par with well known contemporary branded blends.
Scores 76 points
As is common for many of the newer distilleries, gin is an important revenue source whilst spirit matures.
The Lakes Gin  Ob. 43.7% website
- N: With little gin experience, I bumble my way through this rather inviting nose with flavours that include bitter/sweet citrus, orris [The Foz], cinnamon and [of course] juniper.
- T: This is actually very tasty. The bitter-sweet orange is very true and fine.
- F: Juniper & orange later.
- C: The nicest gin I’ve ever tried.
They make vodka too.
The Lakes Vodka  Ob. 40% website
Made from wheat [like their gin], this is distilled in 10 hours.
- C: Disappointingly but perhaps not surprising, it’s just a clean nondescript vodka. No doubt popular.
As a business model, the Lakes has a bright future. The distillery is in a hotspot tourist area and as far as we could ascertain, initial costs have already been recouped. Even if there’s a whisky crash, they have gin, vodka, the bistro, the alpaca farm, river walks as well as concerts & theatre shows in the summer. As for the whisky – very promising.