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Tag: The Lakes Distillery

The Nightcap: 20 May

On World Whisky Day Eve we report on stories like £150k worth of Glenfarclas whisky being stolen, the Lakes’ Dhavall Gandhi going solo, and the revelation of whisky’s wackiest tasting…

On World Whisky Day Eve we report on stories like £150k worth of Glenfarclas whisky being stolen, the Lakes’ Dhavall Gandhi going solo, and the revelation of whisky’s wackiest tasting notes.

Tomorrow is World Whisky Day so we’re going to celebrate with a touch of holy, healing Tequila. Har, har, har. We’re just kidding. No, it’s the water of life for us this weekend, and if you’re struggling to find anything ideal for the occasion then we think we might just have a couple of options to help. Of course, if you really want something special, you can always register your interest in some truly breathtaking bottles from Bowmore – 50-year-old Islay whisky awaits…

You can accompany your World Whisky Day dram with some reading on our beloved spirit, as the blog was full of it this week. We told the tale of Tamdhu, considered the changing role of the whisky distillery manager, and celebrated the distillery architects who made the mould. A Scotch-inspired twist of the Sidecar was also on the menu, as were drinks that help the environment and taste great, including a new gin from Hendrick’s. There was still time to preview our upcoming virtual gin festival, and learn how the world of Irish cream liqueur is evolving.

The Nightcap: 20 May edition!


It’s the sight no distillery ever wants to see

Thieves swipe £150k worth of Glenfarclas whisky

Devastating news came from Glenfarclas Distillery this week, as it reported that more than £150,000-worth of whisky was stolen. The Grant family, who own and run the business, revealed on Facebook that the visitor centre had been broken into at 2:45am, stating that the thieves “clearly knew what they wanted” after smashing cabinets and making off with 20 of the most expensive bottles, including the oldest and most valuable Family Casks and a bottle of 60-year-old. The average worth of bottle is estimated to be £7,500. Police say they are looking for two men who broke into the distillery sometime between 5.15pm on Friday 13 May and 10am on Sunday 15 May. The family reveals that the team is understandably very shaken up by these events and asks that anyone who has any information related to this crime or are offered these bottles to “please get in touch with us immediately, and please share this post.” It’s likely the thieves will look to sell on the stolen whisky, which does give some hope that they could be found, and detectives in the North East have urged the public to be aware of alcohol being sold at a discounted price. Let’s hope they are recovered, and if you do know or suspect anything be sure to get in touch with the distillery.

Dhavall Gandhi

Best of luck, Dhavall! Thanks for all the lovely Lakes whisky

Dhavall Gandhi announces new solo project

The Lakes Distillery has been one of the brightest new distilleries to emerge in the last few years and key to its success was its outstanding cask programme, overseen by director of whisky and former Macallan man Dhavall Gandhi. Now the English whisky maker will have to get used to life without Gandhi as he has moved onto pastures new to establish a creative studio called Dhavall Gandhi Whisky (how did he think up that name?). It’s been described as the “private bank of the whisky consulting world” and aims to “elevate the expectations” of the whisky industry. How? By partnering with firms with “a shared passion for whisky to define what is next” for the category on projects with exploratory concepts and stock transformation endeavours. “I founded Dhavall Gandhi Whisky as a creative studio with an über-niche focus,” Gandhi explains. “We believe that whisky is much more than how it tastes – it is about the emotional impact. Through creativity, thoughtful blending, and unrivalled expertise in sherry casks, we can help create whiskies that lead to better human connections.” The studio, which officially launched in 2022, will continue to work with The Lakes Distillery, one of its first clients, while it has already secured customers in areas such as New York and Tokyo and is working on multi-year ventures. Gandhi has been über busy, it seems, as he will also announce details about another project set to launch in September 2022. Exciting times for the former Lakes man, and we wish him all the best. As for The Lakes, there’s no news yet on a replacement, but we’re confident that they identified somebody as capable as Gandhi before and will do so again.

Jim Beam

Like father, like son

Freddie Noe to become master distiller of the Fred B. Noe Distillery

The James B. Beam Distilling Co is keeping it in the family again by announcing the appointment of Freddie Noe to be master distiller of the Fred B. Noe Distillery. The site officially opened last year as part of parent company Beam Suntory’s $60 million investment to revamp the James B Distilling Co in Clermont, Kentucky, in the US. Freddie previously surprised and honoured his dad, seventh-generation master distiller Fred Noe, by announcing the name of the distillery would be a tribute to him. This time the father turned the tables on his son by revealing his new title, and in doing so marked the first time in the history of JBBDCo that there are two family members, working alongside one another, sharing the master distiller title. Fred revealed this week that one of his biggest regrets is to never have distilled alongside his own father, Booker, adding that “working side-by-side with Freddie will be a dream come true”. Freddie himself said it would be “an honour beyond words to follow in my father’s footsteps.” He’ll now get to experiment with new fermentation, distillation, and blending techniques at the Fred B. Noe Distillery, while Fred Noe will maintain his role overseeing the James B. Beam Distilling Company’s portfolio of brands that include Jim Beam Bourbon, Knob Creek Bourbon, Basil Hayden, and others.


It’s as good as it looks

Redbreast launches Dream Cask Double Cask Edition 

To mark World Whisky Day tomorrow Irish Distillers is wheeling out its big hitter Redbreast and expanding its celebrated Dream Cask series. The fifth edition in the range, Redbreast Dream Cask Double Cask Edition is a 30-year-old single pot still Irish whiskey aged in two casks hand-selected by master blender Billy Leighton, and blender Dave McCabe. Each picked a favourite from Midleton’s considerable inventory with Leighton plumping for a first-fill ex-Oloroso sherry butt in May 1990 and McCabe favouring a first-fill ex-bourbon barrel in November 1991. These two were then combined. It’s a really interesting idea because what we see here is the two distinct components of the Redbreast DNA brought together, but also how the more established blender favours the more classic sherried style, while the heir apparent goes for the intriguing, alternative option. “The traditional Redbreast style is so often associated with the influence of sherry casks that we sometimes overlook the role bourbon casks play in its composition,” McCabe says in the press release. Indeed. The whiskey is bottled at 56.9% ABV, and the resulting liquid is “rich in robust spice with wood-driven characteristics and notes of dark-roasted coffee, sweet liquorice, orange peel and smoked amplified by the wine cask’s influence,” according to Leighton. Ok here’s the bad news, the bottle is 500ml, it costs €550, and it’s only available through an online ballot. The good news is, Redbreast Dream Cask Double Cask Edition is outrageously good, right up there with the initial Dream Cask launch. Kudos to those who get their hands on it.

The Glenlivet

The new generation of The Glenlivet is here (Lisa and Kevin, respectively)

The Glenlivet bids farewell to Alan Winchester

Chivas Brothers is waving goodbye to an iconic whisky man this week as former Glenlivet master distiller Alan Winchester leaves his ambassadorial role for the single malt brand. The 48-year industry veteran, who was recently honoured with The Spirit of Speyside Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition for his work in the whisky, retired as master distiller for The Glenlivet in 2018 but now heads for pastures new as an advisor at the upcoming Cabrach Distillery. The announcement has been framed as a retirement, so it’s possible that’s a part time role. What will be a full time task is continuing his legacy, and for that Chivas Brothers has announced the appointment of a new team of The Glenlivet Makers, comprising of distillers and a cask expert. New distillery manager, Lisa Glen, will lead the new team, alongside lead distiller, Kevin Reid, and cask expert, Kevin Balmforth. Glen began her career as an engineer in the Merchant Navy before becoming a distillery operations technician and later team leader at The Glenlivet, where she oversaw the operations and processes of the plant for eight years. The departing Winchester says that being master distiller of The Glenlivet “was truly an honour,” adding that “representing such a revered, quintessential single malt has been nothing short of a privilege”. Thanks for all the good times Alan, and best of luck.

Wire Works whisky

White Peak Distillery is one of the founding members

The English Whisky Guild publicly launches

It’s been on the cards for a while but now it’s official: we have an English Whisky Guild. The EWG publicly launched this week equipped with an aim to showcase and protect whisky crafted in England and bolstered by data that suggests the volume of spirit produced by distilleries in this country will soar by 189% from 2019 to 2023, with the number of bottles sold expected to rise by 418% from 2019 to 2023. A legal definition for whisky that would establish protections for the English whisky industry is the group’s first project, and it’s already submitted a geographical indicator (GI) to the UK Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra). The EWG will also look to support its community of producers while building awareness of the category. Drinks writer Dave Broom calls it a “significant and hugely welcome step in the evolution of English whisky,” while EWG’s inaugural chairman Andrew Nelstrop, says the group will welcome other English distilleries to join “at this exciting time.”

Compass Box

The Circle, No.2 will be here soon

Compass Box Whisky Releases The Circle, No.2

Compass Box is launching a new whisky that’s all about tapping into the phenomenon of synaesthesia. It’s the second edition from The Circle programme, which serves to connect the creative processes of the blending room with those of the bar trade. A bartender gets to put their input into this whisky’s creation after winning the competition, and 2019’s victor Mannie Monaghan, owner of the bar Below Stairs in Leeds, UK, asked the Compass Box whisky makers: “Is it possible to make a whisky that evokes the colour coral?” Synaesthesia refers to a blending of the senses that can entail hearing shapes or tasting colours, and Monaghan is a self-described synaesthete – unlike whiskymaker James Saxon, who relied on the bar owner to first identify whisky that matched the colour in his mind. What he’s made is described as a soft, and sweet whisky took shape, with more than half of the recipe coming from tropical, pineapple-accented spirit of Glen Elgin Distillery. Whiskies aged in ex-sherry casks add warmth and a clinging texture, while dashes of a peated whisky, and a little malt whisky further matured in STR wine casks, bring contrast and depth. You can see for yourself if The Circle, No.2 hits the mark, and it will be on our virtual shelves soon.

Glen Moray

Our Henry, endeavouring to circumvent any verbose descriptions

And finally… Glen Moray reveals whisky’s wackiest tasting notes

Another World Whisky Day tie-in came from Glen Moray, who revealed the results of asking experts to reveal the strangest tasting notes they’ve encountered. Leading writers including, Dave Broom, Jim Coleman, Ian Wisniewski, Mark Gillespie, Brian Townsend, Philip Day, and our own Henry Jeffreys all rose to the challenge, outlining their pet peeves, guilty pleasures, and funniest finds while suggesting some modern alternatives. “My bete noir for tasting notes, and I’m as guilty as anyone, is being unnecessarily specific, for example saying Conference pear, rather than just pear, Manuka honey rather than just honey, wild strawberries and Colombian coffee,” our Henry says. “I think they are used to give a false sense of exactness. But, that’s not to say that tasting notes have to be a plain. I love silly comparisons. My favourite ever tasting though, comes from wine and it is ‘sturdier than Robert Mitchum’s trousers press’. Beat that!” Coleman revealed one tasting note that has stuck with him is ‘tastes like the left wing of a dead seagull on an Islay beach,’ while Broom had his own favourite avian analogy, citing Charlie MacLean’s taste of ‘dead guillemot’. Other top notes include roofing tar and plankton, pork scratchings with dusted paprika, and dirt. While examples of more far-fetched, descriptive whisky lingo included: ‘Like a young cricket bowler joining the senior squad too young: some of the delivery is wayward but the power, energy and enthusiasm is there in abundance.’ It’s hilarious stuff, but this particular writer is also a little concerned about their own notes now…

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Master of Malt tastes…. The Lakes Whiskymaker’s Reserve No.5

Today’s we’re polishing the Glencairn for a very special single malt whisky that has just arrived at MoM towers. It’s the latest iteration of the flagship whisky from one of…

Today’s we’re polishing the Glencairn for a very special single malt whisky that has just arrived at MoM towers. It’s the latest iteration of the flagship whisky from one of England’s top distillers: The Lakes Whiskymaker’s Reserve No.5!

The aptly-named Lakes Distillery in the Lake District is at the forefront of the English whisky scene. The team has some serious pedigree headed up as it is by ex-Macallan whisky maker Dhavall Gandhi and one of the co-founders is Paul Currie, who was involved with setting up the Isle of Arran Distillery.

As you might expect from a former Macallan man, Gandhi is pretty keen on sherry casks as the Whiskymaker’s Reserve series makes clear. All the releases are built around sherried wood. But the inspiration doesn’t just come from Scotland and Jerez, he’s also learned some lessons from Cognac practices. 

Inspired by Cognac

Influenced by the way Cognac cellar masters work, the team at the Lakes take an active role in monitoring the development of their whisky. Location within a warehouse can drastically affect how quickly whisky matures so casks might be moved around depending on how they taste, or put into different casks to enhance certain flavours. 

But what happens before maturation is in no way straightforward either. Gandhi uses three types of yeast: a traditional whisky distilling yeast, a French yeast, and a heritage yeast. The different yeasts produce three different washes with varying flavour profiles that Gandhi can use for blending post distillation. This is something seen in Japanese whisky and in the US at distillers like Four Roses, but you don’t see it very often in Scotland. 

whisky lakes distillery

Dhavall Gandhi with his sherry casks

How many new makes?

Distillation, in contrast, is entirely conventional. Only joking! Gandhi does a standard double distillation in two pot stills but he creates two different washes, a light and a heavy. The lighter one goes through a copper condenser to create more reflux, whereas the heavy goes through stainless steel. So you have six different new makes in all, a light and a heavy from each yeast strain. The new makes are around 67% ABV and are diluted down to 58% ABV for maturation.

Then it’s on to the casks. The distillery produces some limited edition releases including the delicious and sadly sold-out Miramar which accentuate unusual casks like tawny Port pipes, but the Whiskymaker’s Reserve style, the brand’s flagship, is all about sherry, sherry, and a bit more sherry. But, of course, there’s sherry and there’s sherry. Gandhi uses both American and European oak casks, either 500-litre butts or 250-litre hogsheads seasoned with Oloroso, Fino, Cream, or PX. Plus there are some red wine casks in there. So between the types of cask, the three yeasts strains, the heavy and light new make, and different places in the warehouse, Gandhi has a mind-boggling palette of whiskies to work with. That’s before you take into account different ages. 

Introducing the Lakes Whiskymaker’s Reserve No.5 

Putting all that together can’t be easy. The latest iteration of the classic Whiskymaker’s Reserve, Whiskymaker’s Reserve No.5 is made up of a blend of Oloroso, PX, and red wine casks comprising Spanish and American oak. According to the press bumf: “we wanted to create a whisky that has the same complex sherry-led style as previous releases but is much more refined and elegant.”

And I have to say that Gandhi has succeeded admirably. The Whiskymaker’s No. 4 was a sweet, sticky sherry bomb but the No. 5 is much more spicy and aromatic though there’s no shortage of chocolate, dried fruit, and sweetness, and it’s smooth as hell. As usual with the Lakes, the alcohol levels are more than generous, 52% ABV. 

For my money, it’s a much more balanced whisky. It tastes more mature and shows how this pioneering distillery is evolving and improving with every release. As with all single malts from the Lakes, it’s a limited edition, so when it’s gone, it’s gone. And then there’s Lakes Whiskymakers Reserve No.6 to look forward to. With so many casks to choose from which are getting better every day, it should be well worth waiting for. 

The Lakes Whiskymakers Reserve No.5 is available from Master of Malt. Click here to buy.

Lakes Whiskymakers Reserve #5

Tasting note from the Chaps at Master of Malt:

Nose: Rich sweet notes of toffee, chocolate, dates, and rum along with tobacco, mint, and ginger.

Palate: Really spicy with black pepper, chilli pepper, and a peppermint freshness about it, plus cinnamon and ginger. This gives way to a creme caramel-like sweetness with pecans and walnuts. Super smooth.

Finish: Burnt caramel, coffee, dark chocolate, and a little orange peel. 

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The wonders of wine casks and whisky

As the popularity of ageing or finishing in wine casks continues to grow in the whisky industry, Millie Milliken takes a look at some of the latest experimental bottlings out…

As the popularity of ageing or finishing in wine casks continues to grow in the whisky industry, Millie Milliken takes a look at some of the latest experimental bottlings out there.

On a recent trip to the Spirit of Yorkshire Distillery alongside Master of Malt’s Adam O’Connell, I had the pleasure of trying York’s first single malt whisky finished in STR (shaved, toasted and re-charred) ex-red wine barriques from Rioja vineyards in sunny old Spain. Oak, spice, vanilla ice cream and chocolate were the resulting nosing and tasting notes – accompanied by vigorous nods and satisfied oohs and ahhs from my fellow tasters.

Wine casks and whisky are becoming more frequent bedfellows. As this article goes to press, Aberfeldy is set to release its new 18 year old finished in Côte Rôtie casks as part of its Red Wine Cask Collection (more on that later); while The Oxford Artisan Distillery has made its third Oxford Rye batch which has undergone a second maturation in Moscatel casks; and Tel Aviv’s Milk & Honey has launched its Apex White Wine Cask using Chardonnay casks from local winery Domaine du Castel.

The use of wine casks in whisky isn’t new, but it’s certainly a phenomenon that has grown over the last few decades. And while we might be increasingly au fait with ex-sweet wine casks being used in whisky production (PX sherry, Sauternes, Port), whisky distilleries are increasingly playing with red wines, white wines – and even orange wines – in their quest to produce liquids with a hybrid of whisky-and-wine characteristics.

Casks at the Lakes Distillery

Casks at the Lakes Distillery

Whole new world

“Over the last few years we’ve seen lots of new wine casks coming in because we’ve got young distilleries and while your house style might take years to develop lots of these younger distilleries are using these casks for a different flavour,” explains Mark Thomson, Glenfiddich brand ambassador. “We’ve all tried ex-bourbon, rum, sherry, but wine casks seem to be a real trend.”

So, why are we all lapping them up? And what’s the difference between ageing and finishing? For Thomson, a change in consumers’ palates is a factor when determining their growing taste for wine casks, with people moving away from those sherry bombs and peated whiskies towards lighter styles. “People also know wine – there’s a familiarity there,” he adds.

Stephanie MacLeod, master blender at Dewar’s Aberfeldy distillery, agrees: “Increasingly our whisky drinkers are not only interested in the flavour of the whisky that results from a wine cask finish, but also the provenance of the wine and our whisky drinkers also tend to be knowledgeable wine drinkers – a wine finish can satisfy both passions.”

Stephanie Macleod, master blender at Dewar's

Stephanie Macleod, master blender at Dewar’s

Ageing or finishing?

When it comes to ageing and finishing, you’re more likely to see the latter. This technique involving a second stage of ageing in a different cask often for just a matter of months came to the fore in the 1990s.

Which brings us back to that Aberfeldy 18 year old. It has spent 18 years in a combination of re-fill and re-char ex-bourbon casks, before being finished for six months in French red wine casks from Côte Rôtie – a Syrah-based wine from the Northern Rhone. 

“The process always begins with the casks – we often come across parcels of wine casks and other types of casks that we think might be interesting, and think how the character of the wine cask will interact with the character of the whisky,” explains MacLeod of how she begins the process.  “Once the casks arrive we nose each one to ensure that there are no off odours and then fill the casks with the chosen spirit. This is when sampling begins: at least once a month the casks are sampled and assessed – we look at colour, aroma and maturation related compounds. Once the aroma and colour starts to have an effect on the aroma and the appearance of the whisky, we either increase sampling or stop the finishing process because the purpose of finishing is always to complement and not to dominate the character of the whisky.”

The resulting liquid is red berries on the nose, like raspberry and redcurrants, followed by the softening of vanilla and butterscotch – what the team describe as being “deeply evocative of an Eton Mess”.

The Nightcap

Glenfiddich Grand Cru

Outside the cask

White wine casks are also used. In 2019 Glenfiddich’s first release in its Grand Series was the 23 year old single malt matured in sherry casks and finished for four months in French oak casks used for fermentation of wines that will become Champagne. Glenfiddich refer to them as ‘rare French cuvée oak casks’ because the wine was still so cannot legally be called Champagne. 

Thomson elaborated: “With the Grand Cru it is important to note that no sparkling wine was involved in any stage… When the Champagne industry makes their assemblage they take a selection of still wines from their growers and leave those wines for a period of time in cask… very few these casks were offered up to us from a cask broker, and have only ever contained still wine but the quality of the wine has been exceptional.”

For Thomson, the main difference between red and white cask finishing is unsurprisingly the level of tannins (with red wine casks producing more tannins in the whisky), followed closely by a drier note in the whisky as well. With white wine casks however, “you’ll get orchard fruits, or strawberry flavours which is interesting (although not all the time).”

Meanwhile, 2020 saw The Lakes Distillery release its The One Orange Wine cask, taking its The One blend (a blend of grain and malt Scotch whiskies from Speyside and Islay with The Lakes Single Malt at the centre), using first-fill American oak casks seasoned with Vino de Naranja – a white wine macerated with orange peels from Huelva in Andalucia. The result? Marmalade, butterscotch and dried tobacco on the nose, followed by candied oranges, tropical fruits with peat smoke and a buttery finish.

Bright future

So, what does the future of wine-cask ageing and finishing look like? “I have no idea,” Thomson says while also admitting that Glenfiddich has a number of experiments on the go involving wine – “but I couldn’t say”. What he is keen to impress though is that the distillery’s interest in wine casks is nothing to do with its growing trend but is an ongoing discovery for the brand.

For the team at Aberfeldy, while red wine casks from the old world have been their modus operandi to date, they are starting to experiment with new world styles. MacLeod also divulges that they are running trials at the moment on white wine, using the same approach to determine the perfect finishing period. And that’s all before the endless possibilities they have when it comes to the type of oak they use too. One style of wine will however, she thinks, remain on top: “I’m not convinced that sherry will ever be replaced in the hearts of whisky drinkers, but wine gives another dimension to the flavour of whisky – something which we are more than happy to explore.”


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New Arrival of the Week: The Lakes Miramar

This week’s New Arrival is a MoM exclusive: a limited-edition single malt from The Lakes Distillery in England that is part-matured in Port casks. It’s called The Lakes Miramar! We’ve…

This week’s New Arrival is a MoM exclusive: a limited-edition single malt from The Lakes Distillery in England that is part-matured in Port casks. It’s called The Lakes Miramar!

We’ve long been fans of The Lakes Distillery in Cumbria here at Master of Malt. We’ve visited, made films, eaten at the great on-site restaurant and, most of all, enjoyed the excellent whisky coming out of this most gorgeously-situated English distillery.

Despite being founded as recently as 2011, the distillery has some solid whisky heritage. Co-founder Paul Currie was involved with setting up the Isle of Arran Distillery. Then in 2016, The Lakes announced a big signing, Dhavall Gandhi, who swapped the might and majesty of Macallan, for a small operation that had yet to release its own whisky.

whisky lakes distillery

Dhavall Gandhi doing that thing with his glass that whisky pros do

For the love of sherry casks

Gandhi brought a love and knowledge of sherry casks on the journey down south. They have since become a key part of the distillery’s style. But he also gets to let his hair down a bit experimenting with different ageing regimes under the Whiskeymaker’s Edition banner. 

So, when we were offered an exclusive English whisky just for Master of Malt, we jumped at the chance. This limited edition single malt is part-matured in Port casks and called ‘Miramar’, meaning ‘seaview’. It sounds much more glamorous in Portuguese conjuring up images of Lisbon rather than a bungalow in Birchington-on-Sea.

But before we take a look at Miramar, it’s worth going into The Lakes production process because it’s a bit unusual. Gandhi starts with the basic building blocks of Scotch whisky, and then makes them really complicated. 

Broccoli and marshmallows

It all starts with the yeast. He uses three types: a traditional Scotch yeast, a French yeast, and a heritage yeast. As Gandhi puts it: “each yeast behaves like a child faced with a plate of broccoli and marshmallows. Given the choice, it will gorge on the sugariest treats first, until they, and it, are spent. That is why we activate each strain of yeast independently, on different days of the week, to ensure the most aggressive yeast doesn’t eat all of the ‘marshmallows’, leaving only the ‘broccoli’ for the weakest. We want each of the yeasts to interact with all of the fermentable sugars, to give the best possible character and flavour.”

So each fermentation with each yeast takes place separately producing three different washes. Each yeast brings something different to the party, the heritage yeast in particular creating waxy notes. Each fermentation takes 96 hours, double the time of most Scotch whiskies. Unusually, the washes go through malolactic fermentation where the sharp malic acid is turned into creamy lactic acid.

The Lakes Distillery

The Lakes Distillery

Keeping it complicated

Things get even more complicated on the distillation side because Gandhi creates two different new make spirits from each wash. One lot goes through a copper condenser and, as we all know, more copper contact equals a lighter spirit. The other goes through a stainless steel condenser which means more heavier compounds are kept. The spirit comes off the stills at around 67% ABV and it’s diluted down to 58% ABV. The three different yeast strains are blended before going into casks, with the different weights of new makes aged apart.

As you might have guessed by now, Gandhi has a bewildering choice of casks to choose from. As an ex-Macallan man, you know that he’s going to be pretty keen on sherry. Not just Oloroso but Fino, Cream, and PX, from American and European oak. He uses both 500-litre butts and 250-litre hogsheads. They are the basis of The Lakes’ style. He told us ahead of the distillery’s first single malt releases: “If you like sherry bombs you are going to like the initial releases of Lakes Distillery!” 

Around 80-90% of the casks used are ex-sherry. But it’s not all about the sherry. There are bourbon casks, naturally. Gandhi can also play around with Moscatel, red wine casks, Port, and even orange wine casks – that’s a special kind of wine made from oranges popular in Southern Spain.

The Lakes Miramar Highball (1)

Makes a cracking Highball

The Lakes Miramar

It’s those Port pipes, however, that are the inspiration for this week’s New Arrival. The whisky is part-matured in these giant 600-litre casks. It’s blended with bourbon-matured whisky so you get vanilla, coconut, and tropical fruit that you get from ex-bourbon casks, with red fruit and plums you get from maturation in a Port pipe.

Miramar is bottled at a punchy 54% ABV with no chill-filtering. It’s a delightful fun drop, happy sipped neat, as most of us do with single malt, but also a great mixer. That high ABV makes it a cocktail whisky par excellence. We love it in a simple Highball but The Lakes has come up with some more elaborate cocktails such as the Spritz recipe below. There’s also a suitably romantic label (below), designed by an artist called Tom Clohosy Cole, inspired by Lisbon. It’s almost as good a summer holiday in Portugal. 

Miramar Spritz

45ml of The Lakes Miramar whisky
10ml of Taylor’s Chip Dry white port
10ml of Aperol
100ml of green tea kombucha.

Fill a Highball glass with ice, add the first four ingredients, stir and top with kombucha. Garnish with a sprig of thyme and dried apricot.

Tasting notes from the Chaps at Master of Malt

Nose: Dried cherry, brandy snaps, fresh peaches, a waft of sea air and a touch of buttery malt.

Palate: Salted caramel tart, red plums, softly toasted barley, cinnamon, orange oil, still subtly coastal.

Finish: Lingering hints honey and stewed fruits last on the finish.

Only 600 individually-numbered bottles of The Lakes Miramar have been filled. They are available exclusively from Master of Malt, one bottle per customer. It is now sold out

The Lakes Miramar label

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The winner of a VIP trip to the Lakes Distillery is…

A VIP trip to one of the country’s most beautiful locations to drink delicious English whisky is about to be on the cards for one lucky person. We have a…

A VIP trip to one of the country’s most beautiful locations to drink delicious English whisky is about to be on the cards for one lucky person. We have a new competition winner!

How good does a whisky-soaked trip to the Lakes District sound to you right now? Amazing? Us too. Well, one lucky person is about to live the dream. They’ve won our VIP trip to the Lakes Distillery competition.

Taking full advantage of our increasing freedom, today’s victor will head to the beautiful Lakes Distillery with their lucky +1 and a night’s accommodation including breakfast, a tour of the Lakes distillery including access to the whisky maker’s blending studio, a three-course lunch for two in the on-site bistro which and a whisky and chocolate tasting experience. All while enjoying the distiller’s stunning surroundings. Which alpacas roam. Neat, right?

VIP trip to The Lakes Distillery

So, who is our fortunate winner? It’s… 

Wendy O’Brien!

Props to you Wendy for scoring the trip of a lifetime and for those who weren’t so lucky this time, you’re sure to find a new competition worth entering right here.

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Win an incredible VIP trip to The Lakes Distillery!

Looking to make the most of your newfound freedom by taking a break and enjoying some delicious booze? Then we’ve got the perfect competition for you. A chance to win…

Looking to make the most of your newfound freedom by taking a break and enjoying some delicious booze? Then we’ve got the perfect competition for you. A chance to win a VIP trip to The Lakes Distillery!

Last Friday was St George’s Day which is a perfect excuse to marvel at the increasingly varied and wonderful world of English whisky. And with restrictions being gradually lifted but international travel still tricky, a fantastic holiday idea would be a tour of some of the country’s finest distilleries.

Few can boast quite as many things to do as The Lakes Distillery, which not only has a range of spirits (not just whisky) to taste but also benefits from being located within the Lakes District. Which is a pretty amazing place, if you’re not familiar with it. There are even alpacas roaming the distillery grounds. What’s not to like?

If you’re thinking this is sounding like a dream trip, then wait till you see what we’re offering here today in our latest competition. It’s a VIP trip to The Lakes Distillery with all the trimmings. Here’s what you can win in full:

VIP trip to The Lakes Distillery

Fancy a chance to visit one of the country’s most beautiful distilleries?

The Prize

The winner of this one will be truly spoiled. Picture a Roman noble lounging on a bed while being fed grapes. That’s how spoiled we’re talking. But this is so much better because grapes are being swapped for delicious English whisky.

In full, your prize includes:

  •  A VIP trip to the Lakes Distillery for one person (and their lucky +1), including UK travel and transport for the duration of the trip. 
  • One-night accommodation for two people including breakfast
  • Tour of the Lakes distillery including access to the whisky maker’s blending studio
  • Lunch for two in the on-site bistro which includes 3-course lunch and 1 drink; and
  • A whisky and chocolate tasting experience – with the Lakes finest single malt whiskies, paired with handmade luxury chocolates.
VIP trip to The Lakes Distillery

Just pick up a bottle of the new Lakes Whiskymaker’s Reserve No.4 and you’re in it to win it!

How to enter

And the best part of all this is, entry is incredibly easy. Simply slay a dragon just like the great Saint George would and… wait, are we not doing that format anymore? Oh, ok. Fine.

Well then, entry truly is easy. Because now all you have to do is buy a full-size bottle of The Lakes Whiskymaker’s Reserve No.4 for a chance to win. That’s it. Just click the link, add to basket and boom! You’re in it to win it.

So, what are you waiting for? Get entering. Good luck everyone!

MoM The Lakes Distillery Competition 2021 open to entrants 18 years and over. Entries accepted from 12:00:01 BST on 26 April to 23:59:59 BST on 10 May 2021. Winners chosen at random after close of competition. Prizes not transferable and cannot be exchanged for cash equivalent. Date and travel restrictions apply. Postal route available. See full T&Cs for details.

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Master of Malt visits… The Lakes Distillery

Just before lockdown we squeezed in one last trip to the stunning Lakes Distillery – although we didn’t know it was going to be the last. Luckily we captured our…

Just before lockdown we squeezed in one last trip to the stunning Lakes Distillery – although we didn’t know it was going to be the last. Luckily we captured our wonderful time through the magic of video, so you can enjoy it too!

From the glorious landscapes to the wonders of the whisky studio, Lakes whisky maker Dhavall Gandhi showed us all the sites when we made our way up to Cumbria to take a nose around the distillery. If you’ve ever wanted to know more about sherry casks or the burgeoning English whisky category, or both at the same time, then you’re in the right place.

If you like words as well as videos, then you can check out our blog on what we learned at the distillery here!

First up, we chat with Gandhi about how he ended up in the whisky business, having started in the finance industry!

In Part 2 of our interview with Gandhi, we learn more about his unique holistic whisky making process and get an insight into a day in the life of The Lakes whisky maker.

Time for a sneak peek into each of the production processes at The Lakes, including a special insight into the importance of fermentation, with Gandhi as our guide.

Let’s talk all things cask maturation! It’s time to learn about the brilliance of sherry casks and different types of oak.

Blending is a huge part of Gandhi’s process, and here in his shiny whisky studio he explains about how blending whisky is a lot like art.

Tasting time! First up is Whiskymaker’s Reserve No.3, tasted by the whisky maker himself.

Gandhi tastes us through The ONE Signature Blend, taking us through how the Lakes own single malt works alongside Scotch grain and malt whiskies.

Time for some juniper, as Gandhi tastes and talks us through why The Lakes Classic Gin is indeed a classic.

Last, but certainly not least, The Lakes Pink Grapefruit Gin tasted by Gandhi, including his perfect serve.

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Whisky making at the Lakes Distillery with Dhavall Gandhi 

The Lakes Distillery doesn’t do things by halves, as we found out when we spent a couple of days up in Cumbria with whisky maker Dhavall Gandhi. We were even…

The Lakes Distillery doesn’t do things by halves, as we found out when we spent a couple of days up in Cumbria with whisky maker Dhavall Gandhi. We were even allowed into the inner sanctum of the whisky studio… 

Surrounded by whisky and a field of alpacas doesn’t seem like such a shabby spot for an office. At the Lakes Distillery, Dhavall Gandhi is lucky enough to call this space his whisky studio, where big decisions and tastings take place. Having spent a couple of days at the distillery with Gandhi and his team, we were lucky enough to sneak a peek into every step of the whisky making process.

whisky Lakes Distillery

The picturesque Lakes Distillery

Dhavall Gandhi, whisky maker 

First of all, leaving your job in corporate finance to go and work for a whisky distillery seems like a pretty rogue move, even if that distillery is Macallan. But then Gandhi decided to call it quits at Macallan when he got an offer to work at a small, unknown craft distillery in the Lake District. Gandhi also has experience in the brewing industry having worked at Heineken, which is what really sparked his interest in fermentation.

whisky lakes distillery

Dhavall Gandhi and some fabulous English whisky!

I imagine the move not just from a large, established distillery to a smaller one, but from the Scotch whisky industry to the much lesser-known English must be something of a culture shock. “The size is a big difference,” Gandhi agrees. “You’re working with millions of litres of alcohol a year down to 130,000 litres.” 

Even so, Gandhi took what he had learnt from a large distillery and applied it on a much smaller scale to the Lakes. The best thing about coming to a brand new, unknown distillery? “The freedom and opportunity to create a house style of Lakes single malt,” Gandhi tells me. That’s pretty priceless for somebody with a vision. 

Whisky making 

There is something unique about each stage of the whisky making process at the Lakes, from the fermentation to the oak to the blending. To start with, most distilleries would have a different person (or team) in charge of each of these stages, Gandhi oversees the entire process from start to finish giving him complete creative control. He calls this his “holistic approach to making whisky.” 

lakes distillery whisky

Whisky making in the process

So, what is Gandhi’s whisky making method? “I start at the very end,” he tells me. Gandhi envisions the style of whisky he wants to create, and then works backwards. What kind of casks will help him achieve this style? Then, what new make will suit these casks best, and be robust enough to handle the cask type? How will he achieve this new make through fermentation and yeast types? Each stage is meticulously planned, and ensure that Gandhi knows exactly what he is looking for.


After the mashing to obtain a clear, fruity wort, it’s time for fermentation. Three different styles of yeast are used, Scotch yeast, French yeast and heritage yeast, with each yeast strain giving top, base and middle notes. The wort goes through a lengthy 96 hour fermentation period. Why so long? It results in a lighter, creamier spirit. 

whisky Lakes Distillery

Time to get mashing

Gandhi talks a lot about his “three tier spirit architecture”, and architecture is a good way to describe what he is doing with the whisky, building it from the ground up from his blueprints. The three tiers refers to the three different yeast strains, with different yeasts used on different days in different combinations. There’s no ‘one size fits all’ approach here. 


As well as a long fermentation, the spirit also goes through a slow distillation, allowing the spirit more contact with the still. Gandhi takes a very narrow cut to produce a fruity but robust new make of around 67% ABV. 

whisky Lakes Distillery

Meet Susan the still

The condensers are of particular interest to whisky geeks like us. The distillery boasts both copper and stainless steel condensers, allowing Gandhi to create two different new make spirits. We’ll call them type A and type B. Type A is the light to medium bodied spirit yielded from the copper condenser, while type B is heavier bodied, coming from the stainless steel condenser. Ding ding! This is yet another point in the process which allows Gandhi to tailor his spirit. We’ve lost count! 

Everything at the Lakes is allowed ample time including the slow reduction process at six litres of pure water a minute, where the spirit is diluted to around 58% ABV. It turns out that the spirit can go into a kind of shock if it’s diluted too quickly, so this helps keep it nice and mellow. 


The Lakes is all about the sherry influence, which may not surprise you knowing Gandhi’s previous Macallan experience. So, why sherry? “Write the books you want to read,” Gandhi tells me. He isn’t out to create a sherry bomb, rather more of a refined, subtle sherry character. 

It would be easy to simplify the cask maturation into the types of sherry, with fino, oloroso and Pedro Ximénez. But the reality is much more complex than that. American whiskey, Port and red wine casks are also used, but sparingly, sherry casks are Gandhi’s forte. He is also experimenting with amontillado, palo cortado and manzanilla, though oloroso forms the backbone of the single malts.

whisky Lakes Distillery

There’s also the oak type to consider, with American, Spanish and French oak all used. This in itself isn’t unusual, but the fact that both sherried Spanish and American oak are used is (often, European oak is reserved for sherry, while American oak is reserved for American whiskey). Then there’s the size: butts are the most common (seeing as that’s what sherry is usually housed in), but hogsheads, barriques and barrels are all used as well. To generalise, American oak is more creamy and tropical, full of vanillins, while European oak is often responsible for those peppery, spicy notes, so the combination results in something wonderfully complex and rounded. 


This is where Gandhi’s passion truly lays. The whisky industry seems to have a problem with the word blend, and he wants to banish any inferior associations. Unless you’re sipping single cask expressions chances are you’ll be drinking a blend, even if it’s a single malt, seeing as different malts from the same distillery are blended together to create different expressions. But people rarely associate the word ‘blend’ with single malts.

whisky Lakes Distillery

A hard day’s work of tasting ahead

We enter the whisky studio, and it’s like a whisky lover’s dream come true, with sample upon sample prepared in the futuristic, glistening space. Gandhi noses and tastes 125 samples in front of us in minutes, quickly deciding on which can stay and which don’t make the cut. Sounds like a lot, right? He tells me that he can regularly nose and taste around 300 samples in a session!

Sitting on the fence isn’t something that Gandhi does, and snap decisions define this part of the whisky making process. Crafting a whisky can take anything from hours to months, he tells me, and gut feelings are crucial. 

Cask Influence 

Gandhi picks out random samples and dissects them for us. He pulls up a rather light sample, and at first guess I would have thought it was aged in a refill cask. He tells me that it’s actually drawn from an oloroso American oak butt. He pulls up a much darker bottling, what most people probably expect a sherried whisky to look like, and reveals that this is drawn from an oloroso Spanish oak hogshead. Simply saying knowing something was matured in an oloroso cask reveals little about it, and hammers home the notion that colour can often tell us very little.

whisky Lakes Distillery

50 shades of whisky…

What really stuck with me was Gandhi’s metaphor of whisky as a painting. The new make spirit acts as the canvas (hence why Gandhi wants it to be as clean as possible), while casks and flavours are the colours, and blending is the act of painting. Delving deeper into the metaphor, Gandhi notes that each cask is like a shade of colour. Just like you have lime, forest or emerald rather than just green, you don’t just have an oloroso cask. “For me, whisky making is all about creative expression,” says Gandhi. “A whisky, when you drink it, needs to stir emotion in you. If that happens, my job is done.”

New releases

When we visit, two exciting new whiskies are in the pipeline; Whiskymaker’s Reserve No.3 and The One Orange Wine Cask Finish. Well, reader, in the time it took to get these words down, the releases are now ready. 

whisky Lakes Distillery

The shiny new Whiskymaker’s Reserve No.3!

But we’re shining a spotlight on The Whiskymaker’s Reserve No.3. As the name of the series suggests, these releases are Gandhi’s chance to really show his artistic exploration of oak and blending. The trio of single malts in the series all have the same DNA, though each expression is unique in its own way with different nuances. For No.3, a combination of oloroso, cream and Pedro Ximénez sherry casks work alongside a small number of red wine casks.

Gandhi described Whiskymaker’s Reserve No.1 as more “intense and bold” with more sherry character. Whiskymaker’s Reserve No.3 on the other hand, is a bit more “seductive”, with more of that incense and chocolate character thanks to the French and Spanish oak influence.

If all this talk of whisky has got you thirsty by now, then you should try Whiskymaker’s Reserve No.3 yourself. Now that you know the labour and love that goes into it, we’re sure it’ll taste just that much sweeter.

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10 delicious boozes to keep your spirits up at home

We’ve rounded up ten delightful drinks for those who still want to indulge in some boozy brilliance while stuck at home. I hope you’ve been working on your social distancing…

We’ve rounded up ten delightful drinks for those who still want to indulge in some boozy brilliance while stuck at home.

I hope you’ve been working on your social distancing game, folks. I’m something of a pro myself. Staying indoors wearing sweatpants, feigning disappointment at cancelled plans and watching so much Netflix I think it’s stopped bothering with the ‘are you still watching?’ prompt is a life I’m well attuned to. I’ve also got a hell of a drinks cabinet for when I fancy a small indulgence.

If you’re anything like us here at MoM Towers, then a period of self-isolation means time to refine your cocktail-making skills, an opportunity to sample an intriguing new dram and to restock the home bar with exciting new expressions. That’s why we’ve created this selection especially for those who could use a bit of retail therapy right now (#treatyoself). Enjoy the list and please stay safe.

10 delicious boozes to keep your spirits up at home

Negroni Bundle

If you’re looking for a simple and tasty cocktail to make at home, then we humbly recommend the classic Negroni. Thankfully we’ve made the whole process even easier with this handy little bundle, which brings together the holy trinity of great gin, tasty vermouth and wonderfully bitter Campari in one convenient place. We’ve even chucked in [carefully] a crystal Master of Malt Riedel tumbler to add to the super savings. 

Negroni recipe:

Combine 25ml of Bathtub Gin, 25ml of Campari and 25ml of Martini Rosso sweet vermouth. Stir over ice and strain into your shiny new ice-filled Riedel tumbler. Garnish with an orange peel (‘express’ over top by giving it a little squeeze, and then simply plonk it in).

10 delicious boozes to keep your spirits up at home

Beavertown Neck Oil Bundle (6 Pack)

Having a few cans on hand is something many a booze-lover will want to ensure during this period of self-isolation, but there’s no need to settle for less. The bundle of Beavertown’s sublime session IPA – Neck Oil doesn’t just guarantee you terrific beer, it will also save you 10% versus buying them individually. Who doesn’t love a discount?

What does it taste like?

Light and crisp but full of flavour – citrusy and hoppy, slightly floral, very moreish.

10 delicious boozes to keep your spirits up at home

Dead Man’s Fingers Pineapple Rum

Pineapple and rum just belong together, unlike pineapple and pizza. I don’t make the rules. But I do know that Dead Man’s Fingers make a seriously good flavoured rum. This terrific tropical treat boasts notes of both candied and roasted pineapple, alongside simmering spices and a helping of brown sugar. Superb served over ice, but also goes great with lemonade or ginger ale.

What does it taste like?

Bright and almost tangy at first with fresh pineapple and ginger, followed by homemade caramel, nutmeg, cassia and mango.

10 delicious boozes to keep your spirits up at home

The Macallan 12 Year Old Sherry Oak

If you’re not familiar with the delights of the Macallan distillery, then this expression is the perfect way to acquaint yourself. Released as part of Macallan’s ever-wonderful Sherry Oak range, this delicious dram spent its entire maturation in sherry-seasoned oak casks which impart that rich, fruity and full-bodied profile we’ve come to know and love from a sherried Macallan.

What does it taste like?

Sultanas, fresh apple blossom, Calvados, tropical fruit, golden syrup, hot pastries, marmalade and barley sugar.

10 delicious boozes to keep your spirits up at home

Jaffa Cake Gin

At a time like this, there’s nothing better than a few home comforts, like comfy pyjamas, a cup of tea and a box of jaffa cakes. Sounds like bliss. How about if you added a tipple, like a delicious and fun gin? Even better. What if that gin was made to taste like jaffa cakes and even included the timeless treat in its botanical selection? Perfection. Good thing such a drink exists. Now, go forth and make an insanely delicious Negroni. Full marks if you stick a Jaffa Cake on your glass like a citrus wheel garnish.

What does it taste like?

Zingy orange (marmalade-esque), rich and earthy chocolate, vanilla-rich cake, a touch of almondy-goodness and a solid backbone of juniper. Also, Jaffa Cakes! 

10 delicious boozes to keep your spirits up at home

Tanqueray No. Ten

A bartender’s favourite for a reason, Tanqueray No. Ten is simply one of the most delicious, versatile and iconic gins on the market. Named after the still of its origin, pot still number 10, which is quite endearingly nicknamed Tiny Ten, this expression was crafted using whole fresh citrus fruits, such as oranges, limes and grapefruit, along with chamomile flowers and other traditional botanicals. Quarantini, anyone?

What does it taste like?

Tangy grapefruit zest, creamy custard, clean juniper, hints of Earl Grey tea and cardamom. 

10 delicious boozes to keep your spirits up at home

Caol Ila 12 Year Old

A staple Islay whisky, the perfect introduction into the smokier side of things and one of our all-time favourites, we’ll happily champion this peaty, fruity and fresh tipple whenever the opportunity presents itself. The entry-level bottling from the Caol Ila distillery is phenomenal (or should that be phenonenal. You know, because of all the phenols… oh, shut up) neat, but if you’re a fan of a Penicillin Cocktail it should do the trick too.

What does it taste like?

Fresh herbs, rubbed peppermint leaves, damp grass, cigar leaves, smoked ham, hickory, elegant smoke, boiled sweets and lemon peels at the harbour.

10 delicious boozes to keep your spirits up at home

Woodford Reserve Double Oaked

If you’ve ever enjoyed the delightful Woodford Reserve but craved something a little deeper, darker and richer, then you’re in luck. Double Oaked is made the same way as its classic sister expression but is then further matured in barrels which have been heavily toasted and lightly charred. A killer Old Fashioned awaits.

What does it taste like?

Lots of sweet oaken character, as well as rich fruit, vanilla and caramel notes.

10 delicious boozes to keep your spirits up at home

The Lakes Vodka

If you’re a vodka fan and you’re on the lookout for a reliably clean and crisp bottling, then you’re not going to do much better than the winner of the World’s Best Vodka at the World Vodka Awards 2019. The Lakes Vodka was made with water from the River Derwent (the very same River Derwent which was mentioned in William Wordworth’s book, The Prelude!) and triple distilled for the desired clarity and flavour profile. It’s sublime in a number of cocktails, like the simple and sublime Moscow Mule.

What does it taste like?

Very soft and a touch drying, with light hints of peppery wheat coming through.

10 delicious boozes to keep your spirits up at home

Signature Blend #2 (That Boutique-y Rum Company)

For those who intend to make good use of their time indoors by perfecting the art of the Mai-Tai, then look no further than the second Signature Blend from That Boutique-y Rum Company for your base spirit. It was specifically developed with Pete Holland (who you’ll know from The Floating Rum Shack) with the classic cocktail in mind and was made from a combination of particularly rich Guyanese rum and some wonderfully funky Jamaican rums.

What does it taste like?

Oily walnuts, rich molasses, dark chocolate, oaky tannins, spicy nutmeg, pitted Medjool dates, raisins, papaya, banana bread, engine oil, sweet tobacco, coconut husk, juicy pineapple, sugarcane, game meat, coffee beans, black tea, dark chocolate and roasted apricot. 


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We have two bundles of awesome spirits from The Lakes Distillery to be won!

It’s no secret that we love a bundle. What do we love more than a bundle? Two bundles! That’s right, we’ve got two bundles full of wonderful spirits from The…

It’s no secret that we love a bundle. What do we love more than a bundle? Two bundles! That’s right, we’ve got two bundles full of wonderful spirits from The Lakes Distillery to give away.

We’re big fans of The Lakes Distillery, what with all the awesome spirits the beautiful distillery over in Cumbria has graced our palates with since it opened. Now, you could be in with the chance to win five bottles of its delicious liquid in a lip-smacking bundle. Oh, and did we mention there’s two bundles to be won? We know, we are good to you.

So, what’s in this wonderful bundle?

Lakes Distillery Bundle

All this could be yours!

You’ll find a bottle of The Lakes Vodka, as well as a bottle of The Lakes Classic Gin, a super classic, juniper forward tipple. Then you’ll find a bottle each of The Lakes Salted Caramel Vodka Liqueur, The Lakes Elderflower Gin Liqueur and The Lakes Rhubarb and Rosehip Gin Liqueur, all three of which are brand new!

Now that we’ve got your mouths watering, we’re sure you’ll want to know how to enter…

  1. Follow @masterofmalt Instagram account.
  2. Follow @lakesdistillery Instagram account.
  3. Like the competition post⁠.
  4. Tag a friend you’d share your bottles with.

And it’s that simple! Complete those four steps by 22 March and you’re in it to (possibly) win it. Plus, now your chances of winning have doubled! Best of luck to everyone.

MoM Competition 2020 open to entrants 18 years and over. Entries accepted from 16 March to 22 March 2020. Winners chosen at random after close of competition. Prizes not transferable and cannot be exchanged for cash equivalent. See full T&Cs for details.

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