The Lakes has long been a crucible for creativity, a place in which the imagination can flourish. It isn’t preserved in aspic, a place of nodding daffodils and naughty bunnies, but a challenging place where questions can be asked, new ideas formulated, something which goes deeper than picture box prettiness.
Wordsworth returned here because it was the only place he could formulate his radical thoughts about poetry; his fellow poets joined him because in the wildness they found the Romantic ideal of the sublime that challenged conventional thoughts of beauty. It didn’t stop there, countless artists, authors, philosophers and musicians have found in the Lakes a place where their vision can be fully manifested. It seeps into every word, note or brushstroke.
All distilleries have a creation story, that moment of inspiration, some might say madness, when someone decides that they need to make whisky. Tied to the desire to distil is the pull of a place. So, the first question is why the Lakes?
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, and access to market. You could make whisky anywhere these requirements are met. 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. Paul may have worked in Scotch whisky, but holidays were taken back home in England, in the Lakes. He may have had whisky in his veins, but why not an English distillery in the Lake District? He could tick off all the requirements: water, land, old farm buildings suitable for conversion, potential visitor numbers; but most 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.