The Lakes Distillery: Whiskymaker’s Reserve No. 1

Lakes Whiskymakers Reserve 1 Header article

Just a couple of months ago, the Lakes Distillery launched their first general release – Whiskymaker’s Reserve No. 1. It was snapped up super quick, and so your only chance of getting your hands on it now is to find it at auction. This expression is the first expression in what will become a wider range of whiskies – indeed the Whiskymaker’s Reserve No. 2 is already on sale here. The first expression, which I’m tasting today, has been matured in casks made from American, French and Spanish oak, all of which have previously held red wine or PX sherry. This is very much in keeping with the distillery’s plan to produce a sherry-forward style.

Commenting on the release, Lakes Distillery whiskymaker Dhavall Gandhi, said: “Creating a new whisky requires framework of sorts, but there must be room within it to play, to follow gut feeling and instinct. At The Lakes, we respect the conventions of Scotch whisky heritage but are open to a world of other influences, interpreting what we believe is right to make The Lakes Single Malt one of the finest whiskies in the world.”

Here goes.

Lakes Distillery Whiskymaker’s Reserve No. 1
English Single Malt
5,922 bottles
60.6% ABV

Nose: Fair old nose prickle initially, which is unsurprising given the ABV. Then cinnamon, nutmeg and mace, with cherry lips sweets, blackcurrant Chewits, kola kubes, and blackjacks. There’s vanilla fudge, furniture polish, and a light oakiness too.

Palate: The sherry influence powers through, and it’s very thick and syrupy, with dates, toasted raisins and walnuts, chocolate coated Brazil nuts, Black Forest Gateau, and orange marmalade. Then new leather, more baking spices, cracked peppercorns and oak at the end.

Finish: Those tannins build with more baking spices, thick oak, and black tea.

Overall: I’m kinda torn with this one. There’s no question that this is a well crafted whisky, which is full of flavour and intensity. Particular credit should be given to the sourcing and selection of excellent quality sherry butts and hogsheads, as the overall liquid is rich, fruity, remarkably drinkable at cask strength, and quite mature for being so young. Having said that, the spirit could *almost* be any unpeated new make from any British whisky distillery, such is the quite overwhelming influence of those sherry casks. That’s not to say it’s not enjoyable, but I’m having trouble seeing what the spirit character is like, and so this whisky almost gets pigeon-holed into the ‘sherry bomb’ category among dozens of other heavily sherried whiskies. I was pleased to read in a recent Whisky Magazine feature that despite filling primarily into sherry casks, Dhavall is also filling some spirit into bourbon casks. That’s really where my interest will lie.



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