The Lakes Distillery is an iconic company in the Lake District. Their whiskys, gins and vodkas are inspired by the beautiful scenery of the national park, and the quality of their drinks are renowned. With every sip, you get a taste of the mountains, the lakes and the rivers that inspired founder Paul Currie to start his new venture back in 2011.
The Story of The Lakes Distillery
So why did The Lakes Distillery choose the Lake District as their home?
Well, any new whisky distillery needs a good supply of cold, clean water, space for storing maturing casks and, ideally, a temperate climate and a location that people will want to visit. The Lake District has all of these things in abundance, as well as an atmosphere and scenery that speaks to visitors, compelling them to return time and time again.
That was certainly the case for Paul Currie. Growing up amongst the Scotch whisky industry, Paul's family were key in establishing the Arran Distillery at Lochranza. Family holidays were taken in England, particularly in the Lake District and, like so many before him, Paul was inspired by the breathtaking scenery. It was a dream of his to set up an English distillery and the Lakes had everything he needed. In 2011, Paul and co-founder Nigel Mills set about transforming an old Victorian farmhouse on the banks of the River Derwent.
In December 2014 the painstaking renovation was finally complete and the first spirit was distilled from what has since been named Whisky Magazine’s ‘Distillery visitor attraction of the year’.
A Whiskymaker With an Artistic Ethos
With whiskymaker Dhavall Gandhi at the helm, The Lakes Distillery blends science and art to ensure every flavour possibility is achieved throughout their range of award-winning whiskies, gins and vodkas.
An appreciation of the importance of location and the need for creativity are the foundations on which their spirits sit. Each distilled drink is the result of its parts: changing one will make a completely different drink, and this is what lies at the heart of The Lakes Distillery's process. Inspired by Congac’s cellarmasters, perfumers, chefs, and many others, they see whiskymaking as one single, continuous process, offering up a net of possibilities to create and influence flavour.
Though maintaining a healthy respect for the long and illustrious heritage that lies behind Scotch whisky, the distillery aims to bring together the best parts from a range of industries, using a holistic approach that is absolutely unique in the whisky industry. And a unique process means unique flavours! More flavour possibilities open up as the spirit travels through the distillery, and this is where the casks come in.
Each type of oak cask gives a different final character and flavour, as does the size of the cask, what it has held previously, and the length of time the whisky has spent maturing. The complexity of permutations and combinations is mind-boggling!
With Dhavall Gandhi’s expertise, The Lakes Distillery has a specialism in sherry cask maturation and their spirit is designed to best mature in sherry seasoned casks made to their whiskymaker’s bespoke requirements. This is what defines their single malt whisky house style, but it doesn’t stop there! Dhavall has an intimate knowledge of all his casks, how the flavours are evolving and how they then can be blended with others to complement, enhance, deepen, broaden, or contrast. Blending is not something that can be done by computer or tick list, it requires an active involvement that takes time and creates depth, roundness and harmony. It is the final touch that makes The Lakes Whisky what it is.
More Than Just a Distillery
With all this intricacy and interest, it's no wonder that there's a demand to see what goes on behind the scenes, and the Lakes Distillery is happy to oblige! There are daily tours of their state-of-the-art distillery so that you can see for yourself how their whiskymaker's distinctive approach comes to life.
Accompanied by an expert tour guide, you can explore the Still Room, learn about the impact of oak and cask seasoning on flavour creation, and discover how they make The Lakes whisky, gin, and vodka. Guests over the age of 18 are also invited to enjoy a hosted tasting of their spirits, with the opportunity to visit the distillery shop and on-site bistro, a restaurant serving the finest local produce and honest, hearty flavours.
Weather permitting, you can also dine al-fresco, taking advantage of a drinks menu that reflects the distillery’s obsession for flavour creation. Or, for something a little different, why not visit their resident alpacas?
Whether you're a whisky aficionado or hold only a passing-interest, a trip to the Lakes Distillery is an absolute must during your visit to the Lake District! Take a look at our cottages around Bassenthwaite to be as close to the site as possible!
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This is a guest blog written by The Lakes Distillery. You can visit their website to shop online or book your tour.