Following on from part 1:
16:15 THE LAKES
Joining The Lakes master distiller Dhavall Gandhi is the SMWS’s sunkissed John McChainey and Amy Seaton [Birmingham Whisky Club, Birmingham Festival, whisky bar/tasting room].
I learned from OurWhisky Festival [WLP] last month that Dhavall likes to blend spirit before it’s even gone into the cask. Today he explains in more detail how [at The Lakes] they produce different spirit styles on Mondays Wednesdays and Fridays [for example] to the other days. All the different spirit variants get blended at the end of the week before maturation begins.
Dhavall tells us his specialism and love is with sherry cask maturation and that he prefers air-seasoned, not kiln-dried casks. Maturation-wise, the norm for the [Scotch] whisky industry is to fill casks with spirit and let them sit, typically, for around 5-7 years before any check or re-racking is considered. Unlike most whisky distilleries, Dhavall is a fan of ‘elevage’ [a practice more commonly seen in the wine and cognac industry], involving moving spirit around using different casks to raise/nurture/flavour the spirit as it matures – not after. Further reading: gotrum.com
Time to try The Lakes ‘The One’. Existing readers may have already read my thoughts about the name ‘The One’, so I’ll spare you a repeat of it here today. As a reminder: ‘The signature release in The One collection, this is a singular blend of The Lakes Single Malt and select Scotch grain and malt whiskies from the Highlands, Speyside and Islay‘ [lakesdistillery].
[The] Lakes The One  Ob. Signature Blend 46.6% [5cl] WB80.33 [WF]76 WMx
With some much older juice to bring depth and body, we are told the youngest component here is around 7-8 years old which even includes some of The Lakes’ earliest juice.
- N: This has really come on since I first tried ‘The One’ [NAS] back in 2016 [WB76]. There’s something very comforting and familiar about this rounded ‘something for everybody’ whisky. Being rather well consolidated, the sherries, wines, and woods are not so forward compared to the presentations from Scalasaig or Bimber, acting here as if those components serve to promote the malt.
- T: The oak[s] and their previous cask contents show stronger on the palate, but nothing shouts/stands out even though there’s always the knowledge that it is the casks that are providing the flavour in the main. Though the result isn’t necessarily as complex as the methods, this is a very accomplished ‘contemporary classic sherry styled’ whisky.
- F: A pleasing sherried > coppery milky lactose note with no overt vanillins or tannins coming through. Very classy.
- C: Not the most adventurous or exciting perhaps [considering the makeup and practices], but a really well-made whisky, as I found with the first release.
Scores 82 points
In 2019 I wrote [WLP]: ‘Hinch is Ireland’s newest whiskey distillery company in County Down, Northern Ireland, making its international appearance at Whiskylive London. A distillery is in the planning stages [info], Meanwhile, Hinch is releasing part of its 4 million pounds worth of bought stock under the ‘Time Collection’ moniker, consisting of aged blends, pot still and peated Irish single malt’.
Before the international lockdown in March 2020, the new [£15 million privately funded] Hinch distillery was just a few weeks away from completion. Construction restarted last week [end of May].
To accompany Jamie Cotter and Aaron Flaherty from Hinch [hidden behind the advert], we’ve [TV Presenter] Matthew Wright and Matt McKay [The Dramble] who steers the conversation with his frank, no-BS, thoughtful, refreshingly relaxed and open approach. I enjoyed the conversations [around 4hr 20 in] regarding growing international markets, transparency [and Conor McGregor’s Proper No Twelve] as well as discussions over how pubs will have to change/evolve with post-lockdown conditions – beyond the model of an Irish pub in Germany for example, with Plexiglas in-between each booth and one person per table.
Hinch 5yo  Ob. Double Wood Batch #2 43% [5cl] WB82.25 WLP
The ratio here is 25% malt, 75% grain. Compared to last year’s batch, I believe this has seen a further year in first-fill casks.
- N: After the Bimber, Scalasaig and The Lakes, this is something else entirely. We’ve the freshest virgin fruitiness at first, with orange peel leading to firm suggestions of an Old Fashioned with twisted burnt orange peel on top – an ideal nose to suit this blue-skied 23-degree day with a favourable breeze – but what is this reminding me of? I’ve got it, it’s genever/craft gin! There’s the orris, the lemon peel, the orange peel,… fresh and soft-crisp, pineapple [with a slight huskiness] > limes and melon. [The Foz would love this]. I didn’t detect much grain first off, maybe because I’m used to the more waxy acetone nature of Scottish grain whisky.
- T: More of that orris > juniper and < < fruit action, with confectionary fruits from yesteryear when fruits were [perhaps] more fruit-based and [slightly] less contaminated and laced with corn syrups. I get that plasticine note from the first batch, albeit fainter, but this is decidedly more fruity [limes, melons, > papaya], the deliciously [even delicately] fruity young light fragrant grain-led and very light husky spirit driving things forward at an enthusiastic pace. Slightly lacking of body [that’s where the 10yo shines], the focus is centred around the soft chewy top notes. Candied bananas on the turn.
- F: Continues along similar lines with a sour-sweet fruitiness. We’ve porridge hints at the last, the sweetish citrus rinds lingering at the death, almost perfumed, certainly concentrated and essential oil-like, and with a doff of the hat to apple brandy.
- C: Hard to score in some respects given it’s like a hybrid European-styled whisk[e]y, but this is really good stuff, reminiscent of some more craft-orientated gin – Dornoch for example [WLP]. A whisk[e]y gateway for gin/eaux de vie fans without a shadow,…
Scores 82 points
The enclosed leaflet and Lambay’s website tells me Lambay is a partnership between the Baring family and Maison Camus, ageing triple-distilled whiskey in [Camus] French oak casks shipped whole from France to Ireland.
Fora: ‘Alexander Baring, the seventh Lord Revelstoke and descendant of the family behind the collapsed Barings Bank‘. ‘New company filings show that Camus Holdings has put €2.4 million into the Dublin-based Lambay Irish Whiskey brand‘.
Fora [again]: ‘,…. the company is primarily focused on making it big in the US and launched in America during St Patrick’s Day week‘. ‘Lambay Irish Whiskey is available in New York and New Jersey, and it’s expected the drink will roll out to another 14 states by the end of this year‘. ‘Our second market is Ireland, although we don’t see Ireland as a huge volume market for us considering the competition‘.
Colin and Matthew return to accompany Lambay’s brand ambassador Marcus Parmenter.
Lambey means ‘lamb island’, essentially a birthing ground for woolen jumpers and lamb chops. “What do you do when you see an island for sale?” asks Marcus. “You buy it”. Rupert Baring [you couldn’t make it up] bought the island, and [amongst other things] introduced Wallabys from Tasmania. Marcus tells us there is a rich family & island history.
Lambay Small Batch Blend  Ob. 40% WB79.55
This is sourced whiskey from West Cork! We received just 1cl of the stuff! Is that why it’s called Small Batch? Like the Hinch, this is a high grain, low malt blend with a bourbon base and a “less is more” short cognac cask finishing approach – “a few months at best”. Lambay receives varied casks from Camus [pronounced Camuu], selected by the master at Camus.
- N: I nose a fluffy [Balvenie 12 Double Wood-fluffy], herbal [marjoram, a hint of fennel seeds, a passing waft of lavender] whiskey, very much grain-led but feeling more mature than the Hinch – though not necessarily for better or for worse.
- T: This reminds me of the discontinued Greenore 8yo [WLP] but with a little more depth [that’ll be the difference from a small malt percentage over 100% grain].
- F: Gentle finish.
- C: Nice enough [£37-42], but a piddly 1cl sample. Way to go Lambey, you festival animals! Colin highlights it too, after Marcus suggests adding [included in our pack] Fever Tree ginger beer to it.
Scores 78 points
We get to watch an official Lambay video [not the one above] that sets off all my BS receptors. I guess the American market will lap it up.
Lambay Single Malt  Ob. 40% WB81.90
Like Lambay’s blend, this is bourbon-matured malt with a cognac cask finish. Those cognac casks are at the heart of Lambay’s signature, as is the partnership between the Baring family and Camus. [Another pathetic 1cl sample in single-use plastic. Pfft!]
- N: This instantly leaves the blend behind, overtaking the Hinch too with more notes from deeper layers.
- T: So very honeyed and syrupy, fruits covered in the stuff. Sweet-sour fruity honey it is.
- F: Keeps going on down that same route. Immersive, my palate is coated and wilfully submits.
- C: Delicious. Not sure I can detect the cognac influence too much [which I imagine is deliberate], though maybe the honeyed varnish note is that influence.
Scores 84 points
At 18:!5, we see another pre-recorded presentation from Ian Wisniewski, followed by music and cocktails. It seems like an ideal time to get a proper meal down, to see me through the last three hours. Back with part 3/3 tomorrow.
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