Dhavall Gandhi

Dhavall Gandhi: The whisky scientist

23 June, 2022

“One of the things that attracted me was that [former chairman at The Lakes distillery] Alan Rutherford gave me complete carte blanche when I joined the distillery. 

“The Lakes was the most exciting time for me from a creative perspective because that’s where I applied all three areas of my career. I did a lot of strategy work, at least from a stock perspective, and that came from my finance background. 

“There was also a lot of distillation and operations running as the master distiller and the whisky director, which came from my Heineken background. And then the creative whisky making side came from The Macallan. And there I formed my own style.” 

During his time at The Lakes, Gandhi oversaw the growth of the distillery from an output of 100,000 litres to 400,000 a year. He also produced a number of hugely successful releases, including the highly acclaimed Whiskymaker Reserve series. 

“There is a quote, ‘write the book that you want to read’, and for me, The Lakes Whiskymaker Reserve is the whisky that I wanted to drink. I’m very proud of what we have done, we weren’t trying to be different, we were just trying to be ourselves.” 


The internal logic to each step that Gandhi has taken is given a satisfying sense of resolution with Dhavall Gandhi Whisky, marking a return to the management consultancy where his career began. His new work sees him take on the role of a one-stop shop for creative whisky solutions. 

“I’m doing some bespoke whiskies, which are creative dream projects. One is for a very rich person who made a lot of money in technology. He wants me to create a bespoke whisky for a party that he throws every year at his house in Europe. The budget is ‘I want something that none of my friends can get anywhere’ and so I’m looking at very, very old stocks and some rare stuff. 

“A lot of our work is stock transformation. I have distilleries that have started in the past five to 10 years that might have hired a distiller but don’t have a greater strategy about cask policy. Then, when it comes to taking a whisky to market that is recognisable to consumers, it becomes quite difficult. But also financial institutions that invested in casks or big distilleries with leftover stock that haven’t used the right cask at the right time or sourced the right cask. 

“And I’m doing creative whisky making as well. But what is important here is that whoever I engage with as a consultant, it is me and my team that take full creative control. I’m still working as a whisky maker at The Lakes, for example, but as a consultant, so I’m still doing the fun stuff but I’m no longer involved with health and safety or operations. 

“When you’re working on one project, you might learn something that can be applied to a problem somewhere else. It keeps you mentally active, your brain is always fired up with new ideas.” 

Gandhi’s clearheaded ambition towards creative control has been an admirable constant in a varied career, now with Dhavall Gandhi Whisky, he has given himself the opportunity to lean on everything that he’s worked so hard for. 

“Freedom is important so you can be more creative, so you can have an undiluted pure manifestation of your creative thoughts. I remember even when I was at Heriot-Watt, when others weren’t sure about their future, I knew from day one that I wanted to be a blender. Sometimes I’m blessed with that clarity.”

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