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Lakes Distillery appoints new whiskymaker

English producer The Lakes Distillery has added ex-Macallan whiskymaker Sarah Burgess to its team, following the departure of Dhavall Gandhi last year.

Lakes Distillery
Burgess has worked with Diageo, The Macallan and The Craigellachie Hotel

Burgess will bring more than 25 years’ of experience to the role of whiskymaker at The Lakes Distillery, including at Edrington-owned The Macallan and Diageo.

She joins Lakes Distillery after a year-long stint as creative director at The Craigellachie hotel, where she was in charge of developing a new collection of sodas inspired by Speyside.

“I was intrigued by The Lakes as a new distillery but one creating such high-quality whisky,” Burgess said. “I am excited to be part of a new and innovative operation and I am sure between my creativity and the quality casks we have in maturation that many great whiskies will follow.”

Burgess previously spent time as lead whiskymaker for Macallan, focusing on whisky range creation, innovation, and quality control for the single malts.

She also contributed to the designing of The Macallan Genesis, and The Anecdotes of Ages Collection with Sir Peter Blake.

Burgess has also worked at Diageo for more than 20 years, managing the Oban, Glenkinchie and Clynelish distilleries.

Nigel Mills, a co-founder at The Lakes Distillery, said: “We are delighted to welcome Sarah to our team. Not only does she bring a wealth of experience and creativity, but Sarah’s inclusive desire to guide, support, and develop our existing whiskymaking team is something we are very excited about.

“With an acute understanding of the complete whiskymaking process, Sarah’s hands-on approach to taking concepts from inception through to creation aligns flawlessly with our whiskymaking philosophy. It is a very exciting time for us all.”

Burgess will be taking the place of former Lakes whiskymaker Gandhi, who left the position to establish a new creative studio in January 2022. 

Tim Farazmand, chairman at The Lakes Distillery, said: “Dhavall has played an instrumental role in what has been an extraordinary journey for The Lakes over the past five years.

“Culminating in The Whiskymaker’s Reserve No.4 being named the ‘world’s best single malt whisky’ at the 2022 World Whiskies Awards, Dhavall has dedicated himself artistically to the distillery and helped us to forge a clear vision and philosophy for our whiskymaking. For that, we will be forever grateful.”

The Lakes Distillery said the new appointment comes as it is ‘accelerating production and planning for rapid international growth’.

In March last year, the distillery announced its aim to raise £1.25 million (US$1.67m) through crowdfunding to increase single malt production.

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