I’ve written before about my visit to the Lakes Distillery, in Cumbria, England. And I’ve also recently reviewed a single cask sample of their new spirit, Cask 23, Distilled 2015. Suffice to say I’m pretty keen in following their journey. Which is why I joined their Lakes Distillery Founders’ Club, where members receive one 70cl bottle of The Lakes Spirit every year for a decade – exclusively drawn from the first 100 casks of whisky produced. Each set also gives you a couple of samples, so you don’t have to open the main bottle – you can keep it on standby for a future tasting.
Anyway, that’s what I’ve got today – the first bottle in this series, which is The Lakes Spirit – 1 Year Old. This has been matured for just a year in American oak ex-bourbon barrels and bottled at 40% ABV. It comes in a rather nice presentation box. I’ve opened one of the little sample bottles for now. If you’d like to know a little more about the Lakes Distillery, read about my trip there, but here’s another look at their young spirit.
The Lakes Spirit – 1 Year Old
Colour: white wine, to almost clear.
On the nose: retains a healthy dose of new-make quality. Fresh and grassy, with gooseberries, white grapes, melon, elderflower notes. A touch of green apple. Vanilla sweetness. Cream. (Almost melted vanilla ice cream, in fact.) Surprisingly floral. Parma violets. Green tomatoes.
In the mouth: good spirit, with a lovely viscous, velvety texture. (This has always been my experience with the distillery’s whiskies.) Not as fruity as the nose. A nutty quality is starting to show instead, before returning to those raw elemental notes of barley and straw. Grassy. Lots of minerality, like a sharp dry riesling, and just a fraction of the grapefruit is starting to show. The finish is surprisingly long, with just a touch of bitterness from the wood – yet no sweetness has really come through just yet.
Very definitely a work in progress, but the quality of the spirit remains good – and these early previews of the whisky are really for discussion. Personally I would have preferred a bottling strength of 43% ABV or more, given this is meant to be an exclusive release – the previous cask strength sample I tasted was at an eye-watering 63% ABV, and likely too much for the casual drinker. Also, I’m curious to know what this spirit would have been like after maturing in a sherry cask for a year. The spirit feels robust enough to stand up to the strong sherry influence, so perhaps that’s something we’ll begin to see in future Lakes Distillery main releases down the line.
And I suppose it might be worth discussing what one does with a set like this – of two bottles of spirit, and eight bottles of whisky in progress throughout the year. Well, I will most likely have a bit of a tasting with friends I think – a progression throughout the years to see and enjoy the journey of an English whisky. I’ll set a date for ten year’s down the line…