In Conversation With… The Lakes Distillery
Please can you briefly describe The Lakes Distillery and your distillation process.
Founded in 2011, our home is set on the shores of Bassenthwaite Lake, near Keswick, in The Lake District. Our distillery was built within a 160-year-old farmstead. Taking inspiration from our UNESCO World Heritage site surroundings, our spirits are created with the intention of acquiring a fruity flavour. After creating a clear wort from ground barley and pure Lake District National Park water, we slowly mash it before fermenting with a unique combination of yeast strains. To help us achieve the desired complexity and depth of flavour, a fermentation time of 96 hours (twice the industry average) and slower, longer distillation process, giving the alcohol vapour more contact with the copper still, helps create a robust and fruitier spirit to mature in our bespoke, sherry casks for our whisky, and select few botanicals for our classic English gin.
What were your main reasons for switching to Flexi-Hex packaging?
At The Lakes, we continue to raise our ambitions as a responsible organisation. As part of our ethical roadmap, implementing sustainable packaging was one of our key action points. Whilst conducting our search for a packaging partner, Flexi-Hex’s passion for plastic removal in the industry stood out from the beginning. Being biodegradable, recyclable and plastic-free, the packaging clearly aligns with our goal to drive positive environmental change. A smart and innovative design was also important as we look to becoming a global, luxury brand. And of course, the protection of our bottles was another key factor. The Flexi-Hex promise to protect fragile items during transit with strong and flexible packaging continues to be kept with every one of our deliveries.
Other than plastic-free packaging, what other changes have you made to be more sustainable?
One of our greatest challenges is continuing to make ethical choices without a detrimental effect on the quality of our spirits. But by adopting this perpetual way of thinking, we’ve been able to implement several sustainable solutions across the business. At the distillery, our bistro and shop are powered by organic fuel, black-sky architectural fitting and shielded LED lighting is incorporated throughout to reduce light pollution and energy consumption, whilst locally sourced sustainable wool insulation helps keep the distillery warm in the winter and cooler in the summer. We removed single-use plastic across the site, with glassware and water pipettes made from glass being used on tours and tastings. We are advocates of circular production, an example of this is the draff produced in the whiskymaking process being gifted to local farmers to feed their cattle. After fermentation, pot ales and spent lees are also reused, helping to enrich agricultural land across The Lake District. We have also reduced our carbon footprint by partnering with local suppliers, including moving our glass bottle production from Italy and Poland to neighbouring Yorkshire, which are 100% recyclable.
How do you engage and educate your team on sustainability?
We are proud of our home in The Lake District and take our responsibility to help protect it now, and for future generations, seriously. This has been a part of our ethos from the very beginning. During the renovation to transform an old Victorian model dairy farm into a state-of-the-art whisky distillery, 100% of the materials from the original site were reused, with bricks numbered so they could be repositioned back into their original location. As we increase our focus on being a responsible maker and distributor of spirits, being a contributor to positive impact on the environment is a motivation shared across all the team. We openly encourage suggestions from all our team in ways we can improve sustainability as well as providing updates on this agenda to all staff members during quarterly business briefings. By appreciating and valuing the contribution different people make and drawing upon their unique experiences, we can drive innovation and propel our sustainability agenda forward.
"The Flexi-Hex promise to protect fragile items during transit with strong and flexible packaging continues to be kept with every one of our deliveries."
Are you partnered with any environmental organisations?
Our sense of community is integral to our plans moving forward, and that is why we’ve partnered with The Lakes District Foundation. By supporting environmentally focused charities and community interest companies, we hope to broaden our scope of influence and achieve a greater impact. In partnership with LDF, we have been raising funds to support much-needed projects to help enhance life below water and on land in the Lake District National Park. On 1 February 2022, we launched The Lakes Distillery Water Fund, designed to support community and volunteer-led groups in their efforts to deliver water quality schemes. Since then, we have awarded a total of £25,000 in grants to chosen groups. We’re looking forward to the projects coming to fruition, and for our team to have the opportunity to spend time helping to deliver some of them across the National Park.
What’s your current favourite cocktail recipe?
We have a great selection of Lakes serves inspired by classic recipes. Whilst my preferred whisky cocktail would be an Old Fashioned, my favourite cocktail would be a Negroni, especially during the colder months. Below is the recipe using our classic English gin...
20ml The Lakes Gin
20ml Sweet Rosso Vermouth
20ml Campari Orange twist
Fill a tumbler with cubed ice, add all the ingredients, stir and garnish with an orange twist.
What’s next for Lakes Distillery – any exciting plans?
Having recently increased our whisky production and completed a £2m expansion of our warehouse, we will be utilising our new capacity to lay down more single malt whisky. After only bottling our first spirit in 2014, this represents a highly significant development in our journey. Following on from being awarded the World’s Best Single Malt for The Whiskymaker’s Reserve No.4 at the World Whiskies Awards in March, we are looking forward to building on this triumph with its successor, No.5, which was released last month. As we strive to be recognised worldwide as one of the finest sherry-matured single malt whiskies, we will continue to focus our efforts on having our whisky available across the world’s leading bars and retailers. If you haven’t already, we hope you will see our spirit on a back bar or shop display soon!