All distilleries have a creation story, that moment of inspiration, some might say madness, when someone decides that they need to make whisky. Often allied to that is the choice of site. Tied to the desire to distil is the pull of a place. So, the first question is why choose somewhere with no history of distilling? Why the Lakes?
It comes back to childhood. Whisky at its best triggers an emotional response, it is more than a drink. It shares that with landscape.
If you strip it back to basics what you need for a new distillery is access to lots of cold, clean water, space for storing the casks, access to market, and be close to a tourist route. You could make whisky anywhere these requirements are met, in a major city or a remote island. What makes you choose the place, speaks of the person.
This pull has been the same for hundreds, maybe thousands, of years. Poets, artists, novelists, sculptors, have been drawn here, its fells and waters make people settle down and stay, draw more in.
So it was with the Currie family. Hal, his wife, and sons. He may have worked in Scotch whisky, but holidays were taken back home in England, in the Lakes. Paul Currie may have had whisky in his veins, but why stick to Scotland? Why not an English distillery? And if that was possible, then where? The Lakes, obviously. He could tick off all the requirements: water, land, old farm buildings suitable for conversion, potential visitor numbers, first-player advantage, but more importantly it felt right.
This is a good place to make whisky. It is a good place to be. It changes perspective, gets into your bones.
People stay in the Lakes because that ‘truth’ speaks to them, but they have to eat, and support their families. A distillery becomes part of a community, something which is especially important in rural communities where jobs can be hard to find.
Its presence ripples out across the region. Working in distillation, maturation, guiding tourists, serving food, delivering goods. It embeds itself in people’s lives. The distillery now employs 70 local people, and has opened up new career possibilities: distiller, chef, warehouseman. It becomes part of the glue which deepens a sense of place. “Place is important,” says Lakes’ whiskymaker Dhavall Gandhi. “It is what makes the creative zone. There’s a presence in the Lake District."