The latest release from The Lakes Distillery is a sherry finished expression of their signature ‘British Isles Blended Whisky’ called The One. The base whisky blend has been put together with whisky spirits taken from the four principal nations of the British Isles, namely: Wales (Penderyn), Northern Ireland (Bushmills), England (The Lakes) and Scotland (currently a mystery!). The new blend (having replaced the English Whisky Company component with their own stock, now that it is of age), has then been finished for a year in first-fill Pedro Ximenez sherry casks, hand-chosen by the team from The Lakes from bodegas in Andalucia, Spain. The Lakes have stated that, in order to respect the whisky’s provenance and flavours, the final product has not been chill-filtered, and has been bottled in its natural colour at the distillery’s new, preferred strength of 46.6% ABV.
Rounded, rich toffee smells ooze from the glass along with a smouldering campfire style of woodsmoke. The more you nose this, some rich fruit flavours start to come out and all of those flavours start to meld together, leaving a burnt toffee meets Coca Cola flavour, with little-to-no boozy sting in the nostrils.
Aha! There’s the booze! It hits straight away and bookends the flavours at the front and the back, but there’s all sorts of fruits in between (orange, strawberries, cherries and even mangoes?) Theres not just juicy zesty flavours going on here either there’s a good ginger and cinnamon spice to it too. Just like a booze rich fruit cake.
That little bit of smoke lingers around once the fruit bowl of flavours has subsided. Funnily enough, once the smoke has gone though, rather than it being the usual final flavour, there is a final reprise of that initial saccharine and dark fruity Coca Cola tang on the tongue and lips. Bit of a lip smacker, in fact.
There’s something about this whisky that I just can’t put my finger on. At first pour and taste there’s a lot going on. There’s a combo of youthful freshness and a whole load of fruit flavours complemented by a drying campfire style smoke. When going back to my previous bottle of The One, the year’s worth of finishing in sherry casks has really transformed this blend. Almost to the point that there’s almost something artificial about it, the enhancement seems that intense. Maybe it’s the high percentage of the Lakes’ own single malt whisky which now comprises the body to the base blend, making a difference too. That youthful element (which we have been told comprises roughly half of the base liquid, might be contrasting with some older elements that’s creating the melee of experiences. Overall, it’s an interesting and enjoyable whisky and, after a good bit of time, as it breathes, all of those contrasting elements seem to lose their edge and settle into a balanced, rich, sherry-rich and smoky sipper that ticks all the right boxes for me. At £45 per bottle it may be bit of a stretch for me to keep (the) one in the cabinet at all times but, having recently met with Dhavall Gandhi, chief ‘whiskymaker’ at The Lakes, I think what this really shows is the influence and importance of their sherry-led maturation process in the distillery’s plans for the future (see our notes on trip here). With the leap in flavours and depth from The One to this Sherry Expression, then it seems that the future is bright and bodega-ful.
Sample disclosure: This bottle was given to Whisky Unplugged as part of a visit to the Lakes Distillery. Notes on the trip are here. The tasting notes above have been written as honestly as possible to give a fair and independent review of the whisky, and not as a promotion. Please drink responsibly. Please drink wisely.