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We have to admit to being just a little bit envious when we found out more about Dhavall Ghandi landing his dream job in the Lakes. Dhavall is the Whiskymaker at The Lakes Distillery, on the shores of beautiful Bassenthwaite Lake.
Dhavall began his career as a graduate in corporate finance and economics in the USA, then became a management consultant with Ernst & Young. Whilst travelling in Kentucky, he and a friend ended up visited several bourbon whiskey distilleries – the rest, you could say, is history.
“As I sat on the steps of Maker’s Mark, I had an epiphany moment and realised the direction I wanted to go in. I discovered I had the rare gift of identifying different aromas, and enjoyed abstract concepts, whisky was in my blood!”
A move to Scotland quickly followed, and a post-graduate degree in brewing & distilling at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh. Then followed work at Heineken as he gained his Chartered Scientist status. The next step was an opportunity at The Macallan as Whiskymaker, where he really began living his dream. We caught up with him to ask him more about his unique job.
Why did you decide to come to the Lakes after working at the classic Macallan Distillery?
Throughout my career, I have never been one to follow the trodden path or shy away from risk but, of course, joining an unknown English whisky company in 2016 was a gamble for any Whiskymaker, not least one at The Macallan.
>Working at the Macallan was a treasured time in my career. It was the place where I developed an in-depth understanding of sherry casks and the start of my career in blending.
The Lakes on the other hand presented a completely different opportunity and, importantly, gave me the chance to challenge myself on many different levels.
The allure of working in a business with that scale of ambition, coupled with the challenge of creating a new house style and building a whisky brand in a country with no reputation for single malt whisky appealed. Once Dr. Alan Rutherford (The Lakes Distillery chairman) offered me carte blanche to run the distillery’s operations at every stage of the whisky-making process, it was an opportunity I could not resist.
How do you relax when not creating Whisky?
I see work and life as more an integration rather than a balance, so even when I am not creating whisky, I will be thinking about creating it or looking for new inspirations that could help to improve or create more flavour.
When I do truly relax, it is usually with my family. I am also an obsessive reader of all kinds of books, and a huge fan of music.
What’s your favourite whisky and what food goes best with it?
My favourite whisky is Suntory Hibiki 17-Year-Old, which is a fantastic Japanese blend made with aged malt and grain whiskies from Suntory’s three distilleries; and it pairs beautifully with sushi, especially fatty tuna.
How should we best enjoy our whisky?
Whisky is one of the most versatile drinks and I believe you should drink it however you please. Whether that is neat, with a splash of water, or in a highball or cocktail, just experiment and discover what works for you.
What else does your role involve?
My role is holistic in that it covers every aspect of the whisky-making process from sourcing the raw materials to bottling the final whisky, but I am also fortunate enough to be the maker of The Lakes Gin and Vodka, distilling both on-site in our traditional copper pot still.
The Lakes Gin is a classic English Gin, made with nine carefully selected botanicals. Juniper, coriander and angelica are our flavour cornerstones, complemented by orris root, cassia bark, liquorice, two types of orange and lemon peel.
Our ultra-smooth Vodka is distilled just once using British Wheat for a sweeter, more rounded flavour. The Lakes Vodka was awarded ‘World’s Best Vodka’ in 2019.
Do you have a favourite walk or place you visit in the Lakes for peace and quiet?
When I want time to think I enjoy walking around Loweswater. Surrounded by magnificent mountain views and woodland, it takes you away from it all and conveniently passes by one of my favourite Lake District pubs, The Kirkstile Inn – with a great selection of whisky, gin and vodka, and delicious home-cooked food.