For William Wordsworth, the Lake District was a “national property” for all to enjoy. But what the poet, a teetotal, would have made of the first whiskey distillery in the area for more than 100 years is hard to tell.
The Lakes Distillery is set to open on the edge of the picturesque Bassenthwaite Lake in a converted Victorian model farm. The £2.5 million venture aims to produce around 300,000 bottles of single malt whiskey a year and create 27 jobs.
A consortium of private investors, headed by Paul Currie, co-founder of the Isle of Arran distillery in Scotland, hope the distillery will be operational by December.
Explaining the choice of location, Currie said: “The water is ideal, flowing from a source at Sprinkling Tarn - one of the most beautiful tarns, or lakes, in Cumbria – through the foothills of Scafell Pike which are rich in peat and will give the whisky its unique flavour and depth. Combine that with the purity of the air and you have the perfect raw ingredients for distilling whisky.
“We are delighted to be bringing this ancient tradition back and are confident we will be able to produce an outstanding single malt. It is also our intention that the distillery will become one of the biggest tourist attractions in the Lakes.”
Despite stalling last year, Scotch whisky exports have increased dramatically over the past decade - up 190% to £778m. An increasing percentage of which goes to emerging markets like China, keen for luxury products seen to hold status and heritage.
Cumbria, which used to be part of Scotland, has a rich history of bootlegged whiskey production, however, the Lakes Distillery will be the first legal operation.