On the 20th May the Lakes Distillery held its summer Founders event, inviting founders members to have a tour of the distillery and sample the various spirits on offer from the distillery. As those of you who know me will already know I’m a member of the Founders club, having a understanding wife who bought it as a wedding anniversary present.
So having received and confirmed my tour time, I set off nice and early for the long drive to the distillery, wanting to call at a few of the other attractions in the area around the Lakes as well. I must be blessed because each time I’ve gone to the Lakes it’s been raining when I’ve set off but has turned into glorious sunshine as I’ve hit Cumbria.
We stopped at the Alpaca center not to far from the distillery first, for a quick visit and a refreshing tea break. I would recommend visiting it’s a lovely place and the staff are so friendly and welcoming, we then finished the last leg of the journey to the distillery, driving through some of the most beautiful country side you can see in Britain.
It’s been a few month since my last visit and I must say that the summer sun, just makes the setting in which the Lakes Distillery is placed even more beautiful. Walking from the car park to the entrance and seeing the gates and courtyard bathed in sunlight, just gives you the feeling that this is a place you can relax and enjoy yourself.
So after registering and receiving our official guest lanyards and bracelets and having our complimentary photo taken, we were told where to meet our tour guide at the allotted time. This left me and the wife with just over an hour to wonder around the distillery and try some of the many samples on offer. With a little restraint I decide to wonder around the distillery and try and get a few photos for this blog.
A few photos later we decided to grab a bite to eat before our tour, I must say that the awards the Bistro has won for its food are most definitely deserved. It was cooked to perfection and looked and tasted amazing.
The tour itself was excellent and very informative, with our tour guide being confident but funny form the start. Having been to some distilleries were it is like the guide is just reading from a script that they have memorised, having no passion or interest in what they are talking about. This can not be said for our guide, he made us feel that this is what he lived for and with so many moments of ad-libbed comedy the tour was pleasure to be on. Giving us more information not just on how the whisky making process worked but also some insights on the thoughts and decisions made for the spirit produced. As we entered the warehouse our guide talked about why the choice of casks was so important, with some moments of humor thrown in to keep it all light hearted.Even though I’ve been on the tour before I still learned something new this time and as our guide put it the uber-geeky fact, that the bourbon cask rivets have letters stamped into them letting you know where they were produced.
After the tour had finished it was time to try the samples, it was while I was trying these samples that I got the chance to talk to John Drake. John is the distillery manager and was the guide for my first tour around the distillery. This is one of the many things that makes the Founders visits special, John took time out of a busy day to spend about half an hour talking to me about the distillery. We talked about how important the choice of casks was, how he felt the spirit was maturing (very well if you ask me) etc. After giving my verdict on both the new make and the year one spirit, I had to leave John to get back to his busy day.
I then moved on to try the new expression of the One blend, this is another Oloroso sherry finish but this time it has been left for twelve months instead of six. It was also nice to find out that there is two more expressions in the pipeline, the first being a Tawny Port released this September followed by different sherry finish in 2017. There is also a new version of the Lakes gin being released later this year which promises to be another excellent addition to the range of spirits produced. It was while I was sampling the new expression of the One that I had the opportunity to talk to Paul Currie, this was another one of those moments when you get to see the passion and belief that the whole Lakes distillery staff has. I got to talk to Paul about the One blend and was given a very quick guided tasting, comparing the original expression to the new sherry one. Also getting a little insight into how he believed it could be a whisky for any occasion.
For me the founders is not just about the whisky, its about the experience and the people I get to meet along the journey. This was emphasized to me while I was wondering around the distillery grounds. Ian and Fiona are a lovely couple that I met with my wife at the last founders event. So to meet them again at this event and be able to catch up, just shows to me that experiences like this can enhance the whole event.
I would highly recommend anyone with an passing interest in how spirits are made to visit the Lakes Distillery. It is a friendly and informative place set in beautiful surroundings with a passionate workforce, that make it a worthwhile and enjoyable experience.
I now look forward with anticipation to receiving my year one founders bottle next month.