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Lakes Distillery expansion ‘in full swing’

Cumbria’s Lakes Distillery is on track to almost double its production of whisky next year as the group continues to unveil significant changes to its portfolio.

The Lakes Distillery is based in England’s Lake District

At the start of this year, The Spirits Business reported that the English whisky producer had set in motion a large-scale expansion plan that would see its whisky capacity increase from 230,000 litres of pure alcohol per annum to more than 400,000 litres.

Speaking to SB recently, chief whisky maker Dhavall Gandhi said the distillery will install eight new washbacks in early 2020, with the expansion set to be complete by next summer.

“The expansion is in full swing,” he said. “We have finished the automation of the distilling area and we are getting washbacks shortly. Everything is going as planned and our entire focus is on making sure we have the right stock laid down for the future. We cannot create demand and then not have the stock to fulfil it.”

As the expansion progresses, Lakes Distillery has unveiled a significant overhaul to its portfolio.

The distillery’s inaugural single malt range – the Quatrefoil Collection – was unveiled in May 2018. Earlier this month, the distillery “recreated” its Lakes Gin with a new recipe inspired by perfumers and chefs. Meanwhile, in September this year, Lakes Distillery released the first limited edition in its Whiskymaker’s Reserve series, designed to showcase its “Sherry-led” house style.

In addition to using 500-litre Sherry butts made from European oak seasoned with oloroso, the distillery matures its single malt in Pedro Ximénez, cream and fino Sherry casks, including 500-litre butts and 205-litre hogsheads made from different types of oak.

According to Gandhi, this focus on Sherry is integral to Lakes Distillery’s ambition to become a “global luxury brand”.

‘Ultimate DNA’

“The ultimate DNA of the spirit will follow through in the range,” he added. “Lots of dry fruits, vanilla sweetness and a moreish, creamy taste. That’s the whole idea of the Whiskymaker’s series – Sherry-led, full of flavour and intense.

“We wanted to create a luxury global brand. So focusing on Sherry was a no brainer. There are a lot of Sherry products out there but there’s so much room for improvement in the Sherry area. We don’t want to take the easy route. The Bourbon option saves money but you have no differentiating factor.”

While Lakes Distillery continues to evolve its portfolio of white and brown spirits, Gandhi said the firm’s focus will be on “depth not breadth”.

“We ask, how do we improve the flavour? How do we give more to the consumer? That obsessiveness prevails,” he said. “We are small, but if we do things the best we can, we can stand next to the big players.”

The distillery has so-far only released no-age-statement whiskies, but Gandhi said it “absolutely will have age statements” in the future, with 10- and 12-year-olds planned to take a flagship position.

“We always want to push boundaries and improve ourselves,” added Gandhi. “If you don’t evolve, you will perish.”

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