The Lakes Distillery
I’m on tour! Well, not really. But I did visit The Lakes Distillery in Cumbria for a tour to find out how to make whisky ~ and more importantly gin.
Near the village of Setmurthy, north of Keswick just off the A66 near Bassenthwaite Lake. Well signposted from the A66.
Originally a Victorian model farm. Extensively renovated in 2014 by the founder Paul Currie, having previously set up the Arran Distillery with his father. After being empty for 20 years, the farm was renovated using sandstone from Penrith, with the Westmorland green slate roof carefully cleaned and replaced. Creating the distillery from semi-derelict farm buildings has been a labour of love, as evidenced by the attention to detail at The Lakes Distillery.
In the beautiful surroundings of the Northern Lakes with the River Derwent close by (you can have a wander down to its banks while you are there). Also at hand is a herd (?) of alpacas in a rainbow (well brown mostly) of colours. Fascinating for children and adults alike.
The Lakes is predominantly a whisky distillery. The distillery retains most of the original features, and one or two farmyard whiffs in odd corners, of the former farm. The old stonework and the stunning entrance gates crafted by artisan blacksmith Alan Dawson depicting all the botanicals and grain used in the production of the spirits, together with the tasteful ‘less is more’ grey signage and marketing make visiting this distillery a visual delight. Bespoke copper wash, spirit and pot stills made by Scottish firm Archibald McMillan Ltd. that create the spirits simply add to the visual feast. Talking of food there is a Bistro for lunch, afternoon tea and dinner – sadly not tried. The shop modern and minimalist. Even the loos are splendid!
The Lakes Distillery Tour is £12.50 per adult lasting an hour. Photography is prohibited. Hence no pics! Starting off with a short video and talk by the tour guide, we learn that the Lakes gin is made with 13 botanicals, including local bilberry, heather and meadowsweet. The juniper is harvested from the local fells with additional juniper from the Balkans. The tour guide is friendly and enthusiastic and seems in no hurry to rush us through. We are positively encouraged to linger over various stills despite the rather steamy temperature in the Stillroom. After the heat of the stills, we end the tour in the Tasting Room with a shot of whisky, vodka and gin each.
We taste the Lakes Gin.
The only gin distilled in the Lake District with true provenance!
In addition to the Lakes Gin there is also the Explorer Addition, Damson, Sloe gins and an Elderflower Liquer. We are first encouraged to have a good sniff. Good clean fresh aroma but not overly powerful. The tour guide (and their website) call the gin a sipping gin. I’m not sure about that. It has a crisp, clean and zingy taste and would be robust enough to stand up to tonic but not enough flavour to truly be a sipping gin. Anything citrus would be a good companion. Pleasant enough for all that and certainly welcome in my gin cabinet.