So as many of you will know I’m a big fan of the Lakes Distillery, set in the beautiful county of Cumbria. I was lucky enough to have been bought a Founders membership by my wife, giving me in my opinion an amazing opportunity to be involved with the distillery from its start to being 10 years old (and beyond that as well I hope).
Now I’ve visited the distillery a few times and a couple of those have been for the Founders days, at these days I had the opportunity to try the new make spirit and the ageing spirit as well. This was a great experience and very interesting to see how the distillery was growing in confidence, with a workforce that believes whole heartedly they are producing something to be proud of. These days also built up the anticipation for what as a Founder I was going to receive in the coming 10 years.
So after what seems like ages but in reality is just over 12 months, I received the email telling me that my first Founders bottle was being dispatched. Like a child waiting for their birthday I willed the days to get on with it, someone must have been listing because having been told I should receive it on the 7th of July it turned up a day early.
Now my family say I’m like a big kid when I get excited about something like this, I personally don’t know what they mean but it didn’t take me long to have the packageing open and my shiny new bottle in my hands. The first thing you notice is how well made and solid the presentation box is, it has that quality weight about it. Then you start to notice the nice little details that are going to make this a very attractive colletion to show off, things like the number 1 for the first bottle set in the quatrefoil that is so prominent around the distillery. The Faith, Hope, Luck and Love logo down the side of the box, this beautiful detail is carried on thought out the whole package. On the back is a nice piece about how the distillery is greatful for the warm welcome and support they have received and how the Lakes Distillery wants to give back to the community to show there appreciation.
The inside of the box is just as nice to look at as well, the Founders bottle has a nice classic but contemporary feel to it. On the inside of the box front and the back of the bottle it gives you a little more detail about the Founders club.The two tasting miniatures are kept in a little draw under the main bottle, in all I feel that it is very well presented and the first of 10 special bottles.
Now on to the important part how is the spirit coming along and how does it compare to the sample direct from the cask I tried at the last Founders day.
Nose: first thing to hit the nose is a soft new make spirit smell, then with a little time in the glass comes the fruitiness, some citrus notes, oranges and soft lime, some unripe bananas..
Palate: a hint of the new make, fruit carries over from the nose with some unripe banana, Mellow spice, a little subtle oak and a hint of liquorice root, there is a little sweetness in the form of vanilla (more like a vanilla sponge cake mix)
FInish: The finish is quite pleasant with some more of that Mellow spice and a faint hint of oak.
Over all this is showing a lot of promise just like the sample I tried at the Founders day. They are very similar but for me the lower strength of the Founders bottle, allows me to experience how the cask is trying to influence the spirit a bit more. Letting the subtle smells and flavours to come through.
The Founders bottles will be taken from the first 100 casks to be filled at The Lakes Distillery. Thankfully in my opinion John (the distillery manager) has managed to persuade those who make the decision to keep these all bourbon oak casks, to me this is important for a couple of reasons. Firstly as the collection grows over the next ten years, we will be able to have a very direct comparison on how the bourbon cask maturation has affected the spirit in nose, taste and in colour. Being able to line up all ten bottles and see the visual colour change gradually over the period just from the cask influence is something I want to be able to do. Secondly I feel this adds to making the Founders bottles a little more unique, yes no one knows what the Lakes malt will be (it’s still a couple of years away) but it is likely to be to be a vatting of different casks. This could include a mix of bourbon and sherry casks, making the fact that the Founders will be just from bourbon that little bit more special.
So all I can say now is well done to the team at the Lakes Distillery, you have produced a spirit that to me shows great promise. I look forward to seeing how they grow and mature as a distillery as well as how the spirit matures at the same time.