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Whisky Reviews

Lakes Distillery Whiskymaker's Reserve No. 7 Single Malt, 52% ABV


A mere handful of years ago, English whisky could scarcely hold a candle to its Scottish counterpart in terms of global recognition and prestige. Even within England, the concept was met with a mix of surprise and, sometimes, condescension.

However, the landscape began to shift: slowly, and then all at once. As the prices of Scotch began to become a bit insane, there’s a rising trend of exploring and appreciating regional and craft spirits.Thenin 2022, the World Whisky Awards crowned the England-based The Lakes Distillery as the World’s Best Single Malt, and it catapulted English whisky into the international limelight.

Founded in 2011 and nestled in the picturesque Cumbria county of North West England, just a short drive from the Scottish border, is The Lakes Distillery. It is a relative newcomer to the whisky scene compared to venerable Scottish or Irish distilleries. But in its relatively short history, it’s amassed impressive acclaim. The company adopts ambitious marketing and aesthetic appeal, with a commitment to “exquisite wood-forward, sherry-led, single malt whiskies.” It’s clear from the beginning that it harboured ambitions to become England’s new Macallan.


Lakes Distillery is based in Cumbria, north-west of England in an area that borders Scotland (Image Source: Lakes Distillery)


Beyond the marketing, the distillery distinguishes itself through a meticulous maturation process that uses the “élévage technique” that is inspired by Cognac production. Rather than just filling casks and leaving them to mature without intervention, élévage involves regular monitoring and actively moving the spirit between different casks to adjust its flavour and character, sometimes even altering the warehouse climate such as humidity or temperature, to affect the ageing process.


Élévage is a French term that refers to the shaping of a spirit during its adolescence, using techniques such as barrel aging, filtering and fining (Image Source: Lakes Distillery)


This technique was pushed by ex-Macallan whiskymaker Dhavall Gandhi when he became appointed whisky director of the distillery in 2016. He introduced a more dynamic process of maturation and controlled development of flavours with a watchful eye on the casks as they age.


The original packaging of The Lakes Distillery's blended whisky The One. 


The distillery’s journey was not without its challenges. Initially, The Lakes released a blended whisky named The One, followed by The Lakes Genesis and Quatrefoil single malts. The early-produced spirit received a lukewarm reception. The company eventually recruited Gandhi from The Macallan in 2016, whose arrival marked a turning point for the distillery.

Gandhi wasn’t satisfied with the quality existing spirit of the distillery and went back to the drawing board, taking the distillery in a different direction. Under his stewardship, the distillery underwent a significant transformation and an upgrade in quality, and developed the award-winning line of Whiskymaker’s Reserve range of whiskies. In September 2019, the distillery unveiled The Whiskymaker's Reserve No.1 expression with a stunning new livery, a testament to Gandhi's efforts and a symbol of the distillery's new direction.



Although Gandhi has since moved on to a new venture, the result of his work at The Lakes continues to speak for itself. The revamped expressions were well received, while the Whiskymaker's Reserve No. 4 earned the title of World's Best Single Malt Whisky in 2022.

In this review, we taste The Whiskymaker’s Reserve No. 7, a continuation of Lakes’ exploration into their sherry-led signature style. This expression was matured in Oloroso, PX and red wine casks, comprising Spanish and American oak.

Lakes Distillery Whiskymaker's Reserve No. 7 Single Malt, 52% ABV – Review


Appearance: Auburn.

Nose: Thick and sweet. Opens with a vibrant array of tropical tones and an abundance of red fruits. Red apples, jackfruits, raisins, raspberries and cherries create a succulent bouquet, complimented by a layer of spice that adds a prickly sensation and then warm and sunny ripe notes of fresh persimmon rounding out the aroma.

Palate: A syrupy sweetness with added spice. Evocative of sipping mulled wine, with stewed red fruits like cranberries and red currants at the forefront, then gradually darkens into treacle, dark chocolate and new leather and a handful of roasted walnuts.

Finish: Medium in length, carries on the theme with lighter touch of red fruit notes, soft tannins that transition into dry oak, cinnamon, with hints of leather and a subtle rancio quality.


My Thoughts:

Delightful and robust expression, with a nice bold sherried sweetness and a pleasing oak dryness. It’s got every nuance you’d expect in a good sherried whisky, all balanced and well-proportioned – plenty of enjoyable red fruit sweetness with a moderate touch of spice and dryness and a nice depth with pronounced cacao notes.

For me it’s reminiscent of some older vintage sherried Scotch whiskies.

Impressive stuff from The Lakes.

My Rating: 8/10

Score/Rating Scale :

  • 9-10 : Exceptional, highly memorable, 10/10 would buy if I could.
  • 7-8 : Excellent, well above most in its category, worth considering buy-zone.
  • 4-6 : Good, okay, alright; a few flaws, but acceptable; not bad, but not my personal preference; still worth trying, could be a buy if the price is right.
  • 1-3 : Not good; really did not enjoy; wouldn't even recommend trying.
  • 0 : Un-scored, might be damaged, new make, or very unusual.