Sitting pretty next to the beautiful Bassenthwaite Lake, and about six miles from a place called Cockermouth (lol) in the Lake District, you shall find the Lakes Distillery – which is full of delicious spirits, both completed and maturing (and one of which you are looking at right now…). We’ve reviewed a few of their whiskies now, and are always interested to see what they’ve been up to.
Anyway, this is the port cask variant of the distillery’s ‘THE ONE’ whiskey – which I believe was the first whisky they made (though they are also maturing a single malt as we speak).
This expression has been finished in various tawny port casks (used to age port between 10-15 years old) and is one of only 3740 such bottles. The original, which has not been finished in tawny port casks, did rather well for itself: Silver Outstanding at the IWSC, silver at ISC, and silver at HKIWSC (no points for second place?).
THE ONE is a blend of whiskies from all over the British Isles, and you’ll be able to find it in the likes of Harvey Nichols and Majestic. You can also visit the distillery and pick up a bottle for yourself. It’s very scenic there…
In A Nutshell
Marmelade, woodsmoke, Cumbrian scenery…
It is a deep brown and auburn colour, about average viscosity. There’s no port on the nose – I can just smell malt.
Sniff a little more and there’s some ‘singed’ butter and butterscotch, plus a bit of rubber and cereal wheat. I’d say it’s about average in how aromatic it is. Not very characteristic and at 40%, there is not much heat. There’s a sweeter orange, such as mandarin, orange skin.
After a while it opens up a bit and gets a little more rubbery, also adding raisins and resins to the combination. Slightly burnt, thick creamy applewood or hickory smoke.
Sweet but not as sweet as I thought it’d be – where is that tawny port flavour?
Average heat, neither smooth nor fiery. Big on the cooked fruit and marmalade flavours, there’s vanilla, smoke and white pepper.
It’s a quite satisfying balance – the sweet smoke combination is delicious. I also get cloves, licorice, maybe anise, a tiny bit of cassis at a stretch, and dried fruit that reminds me of mincemeat. There’s also that drying citrus/orange which I remember from their original expression of ‘THE ONE’. In fact, it’s actually very similar to the original ‘ONE’, I’m not getting that tawny port at all. Maybe it’s there and it’s too subtle for me.
Adding water brings out the caramel – there’s like an anise, elderflower Battenberg cake party in my mouth. Then I add even more water (like a maniac) which makes it flabby and watery. As it is already not too boozy this works quite nicely.
A little shorter than average but a bit too ashen for my liking. Orange, anise, dried fruit, mandarin skins, more of the stewed fruit.
Here I am, still looking for the tawny port flavours as the whole thing fades to a finally white pepper and woodsmoke.
Like everything else I’ve tried by The Lakes guys, I like it (though as a guy who likes whisky more than most). In a blind taste test, I would not be able to tell it had been finished in tawny port.
There are none of the raisins and dried fruit that characterise Tawny Port – which is raisiny and more nutty than ruby port That said, tawny is often a lighter and more subtle flavour than ruby in my experience.
Would I pay £40 for it? No, not if I were trying to purchase something that tasted like a tawny port whisky. Nevertheless, I like the orange and anise tastes that characterise this dram, it’s nicely balanced.