The Lakes Distillery set to bring whisky galore to Bassenthwaite
PUBLISHED: 12:00 30 December 2013 | UPDATED: 14:23 07 June 2017
The region’s first distillery could be welcoming visitors to the shores of Bassenthwaite in a few months, writes Paul Mackenzie
It doesn’t look like much now, but a former dairy farm on the shores of Bassenthwaite Lake is set to become a tasty new tourist attraction. Work is underway to transform the Victorian farm buildings, which have stood empty for 15 years, into the region’s only whisky distillery.
The old stone-built cow barns and storage buildings are being converted into the Lakes Distillery, which is planned to start production in May, with visitor facilities open by the summer.
The distillery, which will also produce gin and vodka, is the brainchild of Paul Currie who founded the Isle of Arran Distillers with his father almost 20 years ago.
His brother Andrew was involved in that business too and he also tried to launch a Lakeland whisky almost ten years ago. That distillery to be was based at Staveley and would have used water from the river Kent, but the idea didn’t get off the ground.
‘He didn’t have quite the right plan,’ Paul said. ‘We have got it all covered here – the products, the location and the tourism element.’
Paul had been living in Oxford when he holidayed in the Lake District three years ago and the idea of a distillery in the area was re-kindled.
After scouring the region for the perfect site,he enlisted the help of experts from the industry and last year launched The One, the first British blended whisky, using whiskies from around the British Isles.
Bottles of that are now being exported from the Lakes Distillery’s headquarters halfway between Keswick and Cockermouth, to France, Russia and Holland and Paul, who expects the £3m project to transform the farm will create 30 jobs, said: ‘I think we have a great chance of making a really great brand here and of becoming one of the major tourism attractions in this area.
‘The distilleries in Scotland are very popular and I can see no reason why we can’t be a big draw for people already holidaying in the Lake District and a destination in our own right.’
From this summer those tourists will find a visitor centre and shop with a tasting bar as well as a bistro and they will be able to take tours of the barns which will house the stills. ‘Whisky now is going through something like wine went through thirty or so years ago,’ Paul added.
‘Then the only choice was French, Spanish or Italian but now it’s possible to buy wine made all over the world.
“With whisky until the last few years it was assumed it had to come from Ireland or Scotland but now there are distilleries all over the world and now we are going to put the Lake District on the whisky map.’