Tasting Notes: The Lakes Distillery – The Whiskymaker’s Reserve No.5

You can’t accuse The Lakes of holding their cards close to their chest. Last April saw the release of the fifth edition of their Whiskymaker’s Reserve series – an invitation to followers of The Lakes Distillery’s journey towards their signature malt.

A year on from that bottling, and with a sixth “Reserve” instalment recently made available (see here) in addition to the expansive and immersive “Project” release (see here) and multiple “Editions” (see here) for this St. George’s Day, I’ve kept back a sample to look further into the Sherry-led archive of what is fast becoming an English whisky institution.

As has become apparent with the Reserve releases to date, The Lakes are all about sherry maturation. The Whiskymaker’s Reserve No. 5 features no less than the most whisky-friendly exponents of Sherry Oloroso and Pedro Ximenez, in addition to red wine cask influences:

Matured in the finest, bespoke Oloroso, PX, and red wine casks, comprising Spanish and American oak, The Whiskymaker’s Reserve No.5 is an elegant and Moorish evolution, possessing the same sherry-led, wood-forward characteristics as its predecessors.

The Lakes Distillery

No punches are being pulled in the alcohol department here as this release was captured at 52% ABV, and originally available around £70 GBP, with some stockists still having bottles available.

The Lakes Whiskymaker’s Reserve No.5 Sample (OurWhisky)


Oh it is very sherry. Sherry and cherry. Cherry lip sweets is the niche memory that it conjures. Rich orange marmalade. A good dose of drying oak and red wine cask notes. A little walnut in there too.


Oak and sherry are once again front and centre. There’s such a strong sherry influence on the spirit. Classic fruitcake / Christmas cake flavours ooze out of the whisky with raisins, cherries, and marzipan chunks amongst the many building baking spices of cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove.


Nicely spiced and warming with cola cube fruits melding with rich oak and mahogany flavours and wood spice.


At this point, it’s just oak and sherry, followed by sherry and oak. I’m not sure if it is just the addition of time between these releases whereby the sherry influences in its former oak housing are dominating the original spirit but the two major influences here are constantly trade places with their complementary composite tasting notes entangled.

And this is a classic precedent to follow with The Lakes very much carving out that Macallan-style niche for themselves within the English single malt whisky market. Quality whiskies. Rich flavours. Premium packaging and stylings. Their reputation is building and this series is a very collectible set of signposts on their journey.

Official Photo (c) The Lakes

When No.5 was released I questioned just how many more there would be, if any. Particularly with No.4 winning World’s Best Whisky at the World Whisky Awards. Here we are down the line and with more out out due. Rumour has it though that there will be a Whiskymaker’s Reserve No.7 released in the not too distant future and that will be the final milestone before the signature recipe is settled on. That neatly ties with the impending departure of Dhavall as their master player on this venture.

Back to the whisky itself, and No.5 is a pleasure. How much further the sherry influence can be taken or harnessed is down to their capable hands, and with some No.6 in my neighbouring glass… I’ll tell you shortly.


Official Photo (c) The Lakes

Sample disclosure: This sample was received as part of a paid subscription to OurWhisky. All notes are intended as an honest, fair, and independent review of the whisky, and not as a promotion. Please drink responsibly. Please drink wisely.

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