The Lakes Gin

The Lake District is one of the more beautiful and scenic areas of England, situated in the north of England, just below the Scottish borders and famous for its (ahem) lakes and hills. Sadly, I have not been there for many a year but jumped at the opportunity to visit there in spirit. Opened in December 2014 on a farm in Bassenthwaite by Paul Currie, previously involved with Arran Distillers, the distillery produces a whisky and a vodka as well as gin, taking advantage of the fresh natural waters from Sprinkling Tarn.

The jostling for market positioning created by the ginaissance is such that it is a brave, and possibly foolhardy, move to completely reconfigure your signature brand but this is what Currie has decided to do. Not only has the design and shape of the bottle changed but also the recipe. Gone are some of the botanicals from the local area such as bilberry, heather, hawthorn, and mint that featured in the original incarnation and in have come a nonet of more traditional and, dare I say, conservative botanicals featuring juniper, coriander, angelica, orris root, cassia bark, liquorice, bitter orange, sweet orange, and lemon peel.

Purists will argue that the changes have severed an obvious link with the locale upon which the brand depends but from a pure taste perspective, which is really what should be the prime consideration, it places The Lakes Gin firmly in the classic London Dry Gin space, a tad overcrowded, for sure, but one in which quality will out.

The base spirit is made from wheat which is warmed and into which the botanicals are steeped overnight to allow the essential oils to be released. A traditional copper still named Chemmy is then used to distill the mix and then it is reduced using local natural spring water. The result is a spirit with an impressive fighting weight of 46% ABV, a stronger gin than the original which had an ABV of 43.7%.

The redesigned bottle is elegance personified. Round with a flat shoulder and a longish neck, it is made from a light blue glass which gives the sense of a lake, enhanced by the rippled effects embossed into the glass. The name of the distillery is embossed onto the shoulder and the cap is black with an artificial stopper, once you have removed the gold foil protection. The labelling, too, is elegant, using black and gold on a plain background and tells me that the gin is “gently distilled with the luxury of time for exceptional smoothness”. The only bit of marketese that sticks in the craw is that the flavours have been elevated.

On opening the bottle, the aroma was reassuringly that of a London Dry with pronounced notes of juniper and pepper and a faint hint of citrus. In the glass, the clear spirit was crisp with juniper to the fore and then more nuttier elements combining with the freshness of citrus before a hint of liquorice and more floral tones. The aftertaste lingered, a mix of pepper, juniper and citrus. All in all it was a well-balanced, well-defined gin with juniper unashamedly to the fore, just how I like my gins.

The Lakes Gin was a definite hit and the risk associated with changing its flavour profile was one well worth taking.

Until the next time, cheers!

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