The Lakes Distillery say that using only French oak to mature the whisky creates an “abundance of tannins and wood extractives can create a beautifully seductive and mysterious character”.
For this release, Lakes Distillery partnered with illustrator Max Löffler. Influenced by the classic surrealists & retro science-fiction book covers, Max was selected for his dreamlike, atmospheric work, reflective of the enigmatic characters of this single malt.
Lakes Distillery ‘Whiskymaker’s Editions, Bal Masque’ is non-chill filtered, bottled at the natural colour and 54% ABV. Available for around £70.
Appearance: Rose wine, metallic orange. Not overly viscous in the glass, thin swirl line and very slow forming medium legs
Nose: White wine, plenty of alcohol, raisins & citrus (lemon mostly). There’s also an empty glass funk, which is a pleasant surprise!
Sugary sweetness forms on the nose after some time, along with chilli infused olive oil and blood orange.
There’s a slight maltiness, softening the nose slightly and adding a touch of balance.
Palate: Wow, that’s spicy, took me by complete surprise. White pepper and chilli are dominant, at least in the first sip!
The second sip is less aggressive as always. Still spicy but more butter and softer spice notes now. There’s cinnamon and lemon pepper, brown sugar and maybe marzipan too.
Finish: The spice lingers, like those gobstopper fireballs you used to get in packs of 2 I think? Heavy aniseed. It’s got a thin layer of cherry and sugar which helps but could be dialled down a touch in my opinion. It’s actually chilli heat now, especially on the tongue #thewhiskeychaps
Overall: I reckon if you like a spice bomb with a touch of sugar-coated cherry thrown in, then you’re on to a winner. It’s not to my personal taste but I think plenty will really enjoy it and I do believe the bottle will evolve beautifully too. Should add, it punches above its weight in the ABV category too, even at 54%, I’d say!