The fourth release in The Whiskymaker’s Editions series, Bal Masque is a showcase of The Lakes Distillery’s sense of adventure. Each one-off Edition is an expression of creative freedom, with an intrinsic objective to create outstanding flavours. Complex and aromatic, Bal Masque bears the mystery and seduction of a masquerade ball. Flavours and aromas mingle like masked revellers with featherlight touches. Paying homage to its risqué nature, this is not about playing safe and in transporting us to unchartered territories, the whiskymaker has masterfully conducted enigmatic French oak casks.
Working with French oak for primary maturation can be tricky in comparison to using American and Spanish oak, but the results can be quite fascinating. When used exclusively, the abundance of tannins and wood extractives can create a beautifully seductive and mysterious character. With Bal Masque, forbidden orchard fruits entwine with sweet sensory spices, raisins, vanilla and nutmeg, and subtle background notes of toasted almonds and incense.
Non-chill filtered, bottled at the natural colour and 54% ABV, The Whiskymaker’s Editions – Bal Masque is available throughout the UK from Friday 3rd September 2021, RRP £70The Lakes Distillery
We have a deep gold mixed with amber coloured dram here, it has a super syrupy swirl line and drops a handful of slow running thick legs.
Ohhh, the nose is big, the ABV really gets into the nostrils, and nosing with an open mouth I can taste it on the back of my palate.
French oak is very evident, and is balanced by apricots and nectarines, with sugar coated lemon jelly shaped sweets. I’m also getting a menthol/herbal infusion, with a dustiness. Vanilla comes through, cream soda specifically.
With more time i get a hint of foam banana sweets, cherries, cigar leaves, and linseed oil.
Straight away it has a lovely mouthfeel, then a tsunami of spices arrives, which evens out quite quickly to become a chest warming spiciness.
Vanilla pods, hot cinnamon, like those kids atomic gobstoppers, ginger root spice, black liquorice, cough syrup, raisins and cloves and almonds. White pepper really lasts, it is a bit of a spicy meatball.
For me it becomes sweeter with time on the palate, tropical and stoned fruits start to come through, the white pepper is still there, but it’s a little more reduced now, and I get that dusting that they sprinkle over chunks of Turkish delight.
The bulk of the finish is quite long, and it takes some time to fade completely. Cigar leaves, some tannins, grapefruit/pomelo bitterness, orange zest and espresso coffee, with chilli’s as it fades out.
So far iv’e enjoyed all that iv’e tried from the Lakes distillery, i get the feeling they take their time with the whiskies they create. After trying a few from them now i was really looking to trying this bottling, and it’s as good as i’d hoped.
There’s no getting away from the fact that this is a bit of a spice bomb. Initially it throws everything and the kitchen sink at you spice wise before cooling down a little, giving access to other flavours. It has lots of depth, it’s certainly robust and is a whole lot of whisky for the money, it’s one i’d happily have in my whisky cupboard.
Thanks to – The lakes distillery for sending out the sample.Follow @LakesDistillery Follow @thewhiskeychaps