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The Lakes Distillery was founded in 2014 but like all distillers they had to wait a number of years before their spirit was old enough to be sold as whisky. In order to tackle this problematic shortfall in income, the Lakes developed a wide range of brands that could be produced in a less time consuming fashion. There was Gin, there was a Lakes Vodka and soon, they were sourcing whisky from across the British Isles that they would combine into The One, a unique blend of spirit from England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
In 2015, the Lakes employed the services of Dhavall Gandhi, former whiskymaker at the Macallan, to guide the development of their single malt. Under his guidance The One was increased from 40% abv to 46.6% and a portion of spirit distilled and matured at the Lakes was soon being included in the blend recipe.
I don’t recall trying older versions of The One but by all accounts the changes brought about a drastic improvement. Certainly I thoroughly enjoyed their Sherry Cask Expression, my review of which you can read here.
*Full disclosure: I was sent these samples free of charge. As always I will strive to give an honest opinion on the inherent quality of the spirit and the value for money it represents.
The One Signature Blend
The new flagship version of The One was created by combining the Lakes single malt with grain whisky from the Scottish lowlands and malt from the Speyside, Highland and Islay regions.
Bottled at 46.6%, it retails for around £38.
Smell: Honey and malt. Hobnob biscuits. Toffee and caramel. Lemon. Vanilla. Some dried fruits. Light touch of oak and a gentle wisp of smoke.
Taste: Big honey arrival. Peppery spice. Malty biscuit. Charred oak. More of the lemony citrus and caramel. Dry woody finish with subtle smoke and more spice.
Thoughts: There’s a mouthfeel and depth of flavour on offer here that separates The One from your average blend. It’s an enjoyable dram of sufficient quality to justify the asking price.
Nothing too radical or dramatic. A solid all-rounder that you can depend upon to deliver a satisfying sip time after time. I confess that it first struck me as a little one-dimensional, all honey and malt and not a lot else, but over time it developed well and became more complex. There’s even a wee sherry influence coming through. Impressive length on the finish too. A good every day dram.
Buy The One Signature Blend from Master of Malt here * **
*Please be aware that as an affiliate I can be paid a small commission on any purchases you make after following links from my page.
**Also available at other retailers.
The One Orange Wine Cask Finish
Vino de Naranja (Orange wine) is created in Andalucia by macerating white wine with orange peel and then ageing the resultant liquid in a solera system, comparable with the famous sherry bodegas of Jerez. Using this intriguing wine, the Lakes team seasoned first-fill American oak casks before using them to finish a quantity of their blended whisky.
The One Orange Cask Finish is limited to 2,994 bottles in the UK. Bottled at 46.6%, it retails at £48.
Smell: More of that honey & malt character with dark chocolate and orange peel. Caramel, apple and lemon. Touch of leather and oak.
Taste: Caramel and orange. Milk chocolate. Honey. Cranberry and raspberry. Oak with gentle woody spice.
Thoughts: Carries good weight and packs a lot of flavour though the overall feel is one of balance. The wine hasn’t been allowed to dominate, instead it adds decorative flourishes to the solid foundation already established in The Signature blend.
Much more delicately poised than the Sherry Expression I reviewed a couple of years back. Where that dram was dominated by the sherry cask, this one is more refined. The intriguing wine undoubtedly makes its presence felt but it never mutes the character of the contributing whiskies. A step up in complexity from The Signature and a dram with a somewhat unique profile for a sensible price.
Buy The One Orange Cask Finish from Master of Malt here
The One Port Cask Finish
The Port Cask finish is made to a similar recipe as the Signature Edition but as the name would suggest, the spirit has been finished in port casks, both Ruby and Tawny. Ruby is the most commonly produced variety of port, and is produced by storing in concrete or stainless steel tanks immediately after fermentation to prevent any oxidative ageing. This preserves both its bright red colour and fullness of flavour. Tawny meanwhile is made from red grapes and stored in barrels. In a maturation process similar to whisky, this exposes the liquid to gradual oxidation and evaporation, changing both the colour and flavour profile of the wine.
The One Port Cask finish is bottled at 46.6% and retails for £48.
Smell: Interestingly, there’s more smoke here. Honey and malt again, but with charcoal and bonfire smoke, less distant than before. Paprika and pepper. Heavily charred oak. Vanilla. Furniture polish. Strawberry and cherry. Figs and prunes. Possibly the most complex nose of the three.
Taste: Lots of juicy flavour on arrival. Berries, plums, raisins. Pepper and cinnamon. Caramel. Oak. Undercurrent of smoke throughout.
Thoughts: The pick of the bunch for me. The flavours seem dialled up and the whole experience is more intense. The asking price once again seems reasonable.
My choice as the best of the three, though admittedly that is as much down to my personal preferences as it is any increase in quality. I love peat and enjoy port-cask maturation so this is a no-brainer. Like the previous dram, it isn’t a one-trick pony that relies on a big active cask, instead we once again find that pleasant balance between characterful spirit and flavoursome oak. Lovely dram.
Buy The One Port Cask Finish from Master of Malt here