It is no secret that we are fans of the The Lakes distillery and have closely followed their development over recent years. One person at the centre of that development is Dhavall Gandhi, their ‘Whiskymaker’. The Lakes and Dhavall have provided a lot of transparency about how they’ve been learning from each bottling that they have released and how they are on a mission to find what will become The Lakes’ signature malt. It is also very clear that they are very much after a sherry-led profile. The Whiskymaker’s Reserve series has been publicly documenting that development – currently 3 releases in and proving to be quite the collector’s item (see notes here).
As part of the experimentation and scientific craftsmanship, to develop their signature malt, there have been no secrets that the team have been procuring high-end casks to explore the tastes and textures that they can manipulate their core spirit with. The Whiskymaker’s Editions has recently been announced as a sideline to the core Whiskymaker’s Reserve series, which are intended to show off the fruits of that maturation exploration, with this release, the Colheita, acting as the first instalment in this spin-off series (the Angel to their Buffy, as it were).
The message is clear on this first release: Colheita (pronounced Col-yate-a). This is the brand of Port whose empty casks have been used to mature the Lakes’ spirit (with a smidge of bourbon cask matured spirit in the mix). We posted the official press release to the Colheita release here, should you want to click through to the fuller details on the release, but without further ado, let’s get to exploring this 52% ABV newbie sidekick.
An initial big burst of booze fills the nostrils followed quickly by the smell of sweet cherries. It brings to mind those kirsch soaked cherries that start appearing around Christmas time. In fact there’s a very sugary sweetness and biscuity/pastry flavour that builds on that cherry profile which then reminds me of Bakewell tarts. Not too long afterwards and I’m being led even further down a path by my own suggestion here as I also seem to be able to smell almonds, glacé cherries and marzipan. Beyond that little rabbit hole of remembrance, there’s a set of vibrant citrusy flavours – along the lines of mango, papaya and grapefruit. With a bit more time, the vibrancy of fruit stewing pot mellows and moves from being a jam-like compilation, to becoming more and more chocolatey.
A good bit of heat is delivered to your mouth from the 52%. It’s not overpowering though. Gives you just a decent tingle. That boozy tingle is also joined by a bit of warming cinnamon and allspice from the alcohol and oak. Lots of berries and cherries are still making up the main flavour profile here though. All of fruits listed above from the nose are now joined by strawberries, figs and plums. Could this even be healthy for you? Maybe.
The cinnamon spice sticks around a little but the fruitiness and freshness of the spirit makes it fizzle away pretty quickly – leaving only the heat from the alcohol tickling the tonsils, tongue, and tastebuds.
The announcement of this new series just makes me think: what a great job Dhavall has. I mean, he is humble enough to admit that it is a dream job, but to be able to seemingly experiment without boundary and acquire casks of the highest quality to work on what will be the house style and create their signature single malt, just leaves me totally green with envy. To be able to produce a malt of this calibre in the Colheita as a demonstration of the casks and maturations available to The Lakes is just eye-opening. It certainly sits at the sweeter end of the single malt spectrum and as such evidences what may ultimately be just a component of what The Lakes single malt will have to offer – or simply be an experiment along the way. That’s pretty exciting stuff. Well, to me at least. It’s also testament to that journey they are taking, their transparency and yet another indicator of the good things to come.
As with its previous releases, The Lakes are gunning at the high end of the whisky market with this expression and the packaging all looks very pristine and (that other P-word) premium. At £65 a bottle, I think it’s probably out of reach for the casual whisky drinker, which is a shame. Maybe even more so when it is knowingly branded as a side project along the way to producing their signature style. That said, as I come to writing this up a couple of weeks after it’s release, the price does not seem to have stopped the budding whisky enthusiasts from procuring the wares of The Lakes’ latest experiment, and the Colheita units have certainly made their way onto the shelves of every dedicated Lakes fan, to be housed alongside its Whiskymaker’s Reserve cousins.
As for the malt itself: you can’t take it it way from them that this is such a sweet treat. Its another demonstration as to how far a malt can be taken into a certain direction and possibly as far as sweet single malts can go. Well, to these taste buds, anyway. That is probably it’s main selling point to the whisky enthusiast too. There’s certainly a steer towards collectability here. That and the aspiring mixologist. Maybe even scope for a sample of each ‘Edition’ in a blending kit!
Flavourwise, it seems like a really good time of the year to release this too as there are lots and lots of summery fruity flavours just jumping out of the spirit with a little bit of autumnal spice just round the corner. It’s a real jam-boree.
Sample disclosure: This whisky was reviewed from a sample received as part of a marketing promotion directly from the distillery. All notes are intended as an honest, fair and independent review of the whisky itself and not as a promotion. Please remember: Drink responsibly. Drink wisely.