Yes, I know there are only two bottles in the photo yet the title says Whiskymaker's Reserve 1, 2 and 3. The kind folk at the Lakes Distillery sent me samples of WMR1 and WMR3 but I picked up my sample of WMR2 after a visit to the distillery in February.
This was the last distillery I visited before lockdown when I decided to make a detour en route to Staffordshire to visit my wee 93 year old granny. However, obtaining a sample of WMR2 wasn't as easy as I thought it'd be. The distillery didn't offer drivers' drams and I'd stupidly forgotten to bring any empty drample bottles. Initially, the tour guide did offer to pour it into an empty tonic bottle for me. It was an offer I politely declined. Clutching my glass, I then asked a member of staff in the visitor centre shop if she had an empty miniature bottle. She replied that she didn't but could give me something else and then proudly held out a miniature of Steel Bonnets. My face dropped. However, without saying a word, she opened the Steel Bonnets, poured it down the sink, gave the bottle a quick rinse and handed it to me. A gesture which was met with an undeniable sense of relief on my part.
And this a long winded story to explain why the bottle containing WMR2 isn't in the picture.
I've already reviewed WMR1 here on the blog but I thought it'd be interesting to revisit it - it nearly always is - within the context of the other two releases.
So, here we go:
From a combination of PX and red wine casks, with a release of 5,922 bottles, this is non-chill filtered and naturally coloured.
Nose: tinned clementines and evaporated milk; damp wood; red apple comes through after a while; a slight menthol note followed by something slightly herby; McVitie's Hobnobs.
With water: there's a slight nose burn not there previously; crème caramel and toffee apple; poached pears with chocolate sauce.
Palate: heat, heat and more heat; tinned clementines lead to a fairly short, dry finish. This needs water!
With water: the heat becomes more fresh ginger; mulled wine; dark chilli chocolate.
From a combination of bourbon, PX and red wine casks, with a release of 4788 bottles, this is non-chill filtered and naturally coloured.
Nose: milk chocolate; hint of marzipan; subtle note of pencil sharpenings; notes of cinder toffee and red apple come to the fore after a wee while.
With water: more red apple notes and Crunchie bars; this seems very well balanced.
Palate: lovely thick, silky texture to this dram; there are notes of ginger and cloves; a slight burst of coffee creme chocolate into the finish; this is very drinkable at cask strength - no harshness to this at all.
With water: this develops a real spice kick - those Christmas spices of ginger and clove are mixed with notes of cinnamon; it becomes harsher into the finish with a wee burn on the tip of the tongue; it doesn't lose that lovely silky texture even with water but the finish is now too harsh for me.
From a combination of PX. Oloroso, Cream Sherry and red wine casks, with a release of 9700 bottles, this is non-chill filtered and naturally coloured.
Nose: quite fresh initially; those red apple notes are here too with a hint of peardrops sweets; the sweetie shop aromas develop into those wee cola bottles; there's also a slight damp note lurking in the background; after a while, there's something reminding me of grilled pineapple coming to the fore.
With water: brings out notes of tinned clementines and ginger chocolate.
Palate: slightly thinner texture than WMR2; notes of Dairy Milk Giant Buttons and Golden Syrup; a hint of Jamaica Ginger Cake; there's that whack of spice on the tip of my tongue again.
With water: fruitier with notes of winter berries; a hint of Black Forest gâteau.
Ask me on another occasion and the answer could well be different. But at the time of tasting, WMR2 (without any water added) was definitely my favourite. Although WMR3 came a close second, it just didn't feel as well balanced and have that same silky mouthfeel as WMR2.
The first and second releases have pretty much sold out although they undoubtedly will make an appearance at a whisky auction near you. The Whiskymaker's Reserve No.3 is available over on Master of Malt for £63.95: here's the link.
Thanks to Steve at the Lakes Distillery for the samples and the images.
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