Well today has been a busy day, a 300 mile round trip to the Lakes distillery in Cumbria.
I was invited to the founders day and a tour of the distillery, with the chance to try the maturing spirit at the end. My first impressions of distillery were how picturesque it was, nestled down with the river just behind it. The gates at the entrance are something to behold, with some interesting iron work adorning them. The distillery is a converted farm and it has been renovated perfectly, it looks great especially at this time of the year with the Christmas tree in the center of the courtyard.
I waited with my wife in the gift shop while the previous tour finished, looking at what I intended to buy before I left.
We were then introduced to our guide for the tour, John Drake the distillery manager. I must say that the tour John took us on was the best one I’ve been on, it was very informative and open. We could stop him at any point in the tour to ask any questions we had, no matter how trivial they might seem to us. He was always wiling to answer these questions and didn’t just answer us with just advertising blurb.
The way John walked us through the whole distilling process giving us not just insights into this process but his personal experiences and knowledge, just added that something extra to what was already becoming a great tour.
We also got to see the maturation warehouse where the founders casks were sleeping, seeing the different types of casks that would be used to mature the Lakes spirit was interesting. More because we got to see the difference in quality between the types of cask, from the bourbon casks where you could see the staves making the cask, to the California wine cask I would have sworn was made from one solid piece of oak.
Then came the really good bit we’d all been waiting for, the sampling of the the maturing malt. We got a surprise when we sat down for the tasting, first we were given some new make spirit.
This was at 63.4% abv I belive, I’ve had new make before and have a bottle of Buffalo Trace white dog. The Lakes had a similar nose but was a lot smoother and so balanced. Then we got the maturing malt to try, this has been maturing in bourbon casks for the past 10 months. It was at the same strength as the new make but how different it tasted, the balance between the sweetness and fruit was perfect. I got some citrus notes on the nose with a subtle sweet honey, the taste didn’t let me down either. I got that subtle honey, with some banana and liquorice as well, the alcohol burn was minimal for something this strong.
I must say if this is what I’ve got to look forward to next year when I get my first bottle, then I can not wait for next year to come. I will go as far as to say this has been the best dram I’ve tried so far this year, I know that might not seem like much but I’ve tried some highly recommended malts. They have all been well worth trying and I’ve enjoyed them all, so to me this is a big thing to say.
It was then back to the gift shop to pick up those purchases I’d been looking at earlier, while I was doing this I had the pleasure of meeting and talking to Paul Currie the founder of the Lakes distillery.
All I can say is if you are in the area you must visit the distillery and take a tour, even if you are not a big fan of whisky, the gin and vodka they do is sublime ( I was told this by more than a couple of the other guests on the tour, I’ve picked some up to try as well). You will be made to feel very welcome and you’ll undoubtedly leave with a smile on your face.