While The Lakes distillery still doesn’t have an ongoing core range, their current expressions come down to two series. There is the Whiskymaker’s Reserve range displays their house style: richly sherried whisky. On the other hand the Whiskymaker’s Editions are more experimental diversions from this style.
This is the fifth Whiskymaker’s Reserve. It matured in a series of active casks: Oloroso, Pedro Ximénez and red wine casks (both Spanish oak and American oak).
Dhavall Ghandi, the whiskymaker at The Lakes, previously worked for The Macallan. He is keen on sherry casks and a bit of their (sherry) style is indeed noticeable in his work. Cognac is also an inspiration, especially the way they move casks around within a warehouse to steer the maturation.
Recently also released The Lakes Elements. This is a very interesting set of 7 casks, each seasoned with a different style of sherry. Fino, Manzanilla, Amontillado, Palo Cortado, Oloroso, Cream and PX. All other parameters are identical so this should be a highly educational collection.
The Lakes Whiskymaker’s Reserve No.5 (52%, OB 2022, Oloroso, PX & red wine casks, 5500 btl.)
Nose: definitely sherry-led. There are red apples with raisins, blackcurrants and chocolate. Drier hints of tobacco. Then back to fruitier notes like strawberries and plums. Some volatile top notes come out after a while, like fresh leather and faint whiffs of potpourri. Candied ginger as well. Yes, you could have tricked me into thinking this was a modern M.
Mouth: equally sherried, now showing a firm wood influence as well as a slightly winey side. More raisins and blackcurrants with lightly prickly peppery notes, cloves and nutmeg. Hints of walnut cake and caramelized pecans. There’s a hint of wood char as well, within limits.
Finish: medium, drying, with more of that peppery tingle, alongside treacle and chocolate.
So yes, The Lakes is taking on The Macallan or similar profiles like GlenAllachie or Glendronach. It is a modern (slightly wood-driven) type of sherry, youngish but well put together. Probably my favourite expression so far. Available from TyndrumWhisky or Master of Malt among others.