Thursday, October 17, 2019

Review - Whiskymaker's Reserve No.1

This whisky is the first every single malt to be given a wider release by the Lakes distillery. The Whiskymaker's Reserve No.1 is the first part of a planned wider range of whiskies from the English distillery and they will appear as and when stocks mature. It follows the distillery's 'sherry led style' and has been matured in three types of oak cask - made from American, French and Spanish oak - and these have previously held Pedro Ximinez sherry and red wine. These have then been married together by Dhavall Gandhi, the whiskymaker at the Lakes, who describes it as "an artistic exploration of oak and blending; of flavour evolution and the definition of a house style".

The Lakes distillery is located near Bassenthwaite Lake in the north English county of Cumbria. It was founded by Paul Currie and a consortium of private investors. Production began in 2014 and current capacity is 240,000 litres of spirit per year. There are two copper pot whisky stills and another still for the production of gin. The distillery also has an award-winning visitor centre and has become one of the leading new attractions in the Lake District area.

There are just 5,922 bottles available of the Whiskymaker's Reserve No.1 and these have been released at the natural cask strength of 60.6% ABV. Each bottle cost £65 and the news is that it has already sold out. Whiskymaker's Reserve No.2 has just been announced.

Our tasting notes
The colour is golden yellow and the nose is vibrant and expressive. There are immediate aromas of golden syrup and vanilla with ginger cake and green apple. Then comes a big hit of woody spices that make you think of fresh oak and cinnamon. Further aromas include hints of cocoa, sultanas and dried orange peel.

On the palate this whisky has plenty of power to begin with. It is laden with heavy and warming wood spices, and these grip on to the taste buds. Fresh sawdust and white pepper mingle with cinnamon, clove and all-spice.  Then comes a wave of honey to add some much needed sweetness along with a hint of gingerbread. This is followed by plenty of vanilla extract and crisp green apple. Hints of sultanas and butterscotch are accentuated by a couple of drops of orange oil. The finish is hot and peppery with plenty of woody dryness.

The high ABV strength makes you think to add some water and this naturally softens the whisky and makes it a little more accessible. The intense woodiness and spiciness is dampened and this allows the green apple, sultana and especially the vanilla notes to come more to the fore. It feels more creamy with the pleasantly warm gingerbread characteristic in the background.

What's the verdict?
It is always interesting to try the first whisky to be produced at a new distillery. The Lakes have given us a powerful offering, and one that does not hold back. The high ABV drives this and intensifies the characteristics from the cask. At full strength this dominates, but the distillery character is revealed more with the addition of water and shows great potential.

It is also great news that nearly 6,000 bottles have sold out so rapidly and we cannot wait to see how their further whisky releases develop. For more details on the distillery and future bottlings, please visit

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