June is a time when the countryside starts to show off its beauty with lush green fields, colourful flowers and bright sunny days. It only seemed fitting therefore to host a tasting by a distillery that prides itself on creating a spirit that mirrors its magnificent country setting. The Cotswolds have to be one of the most beautiful areas in England and conjure images of rolling hills and quaint villages. The distillery that was established in 2014 fits in perfectly and has been making quite a name for itself since its first release just a couple of years ago. I personally visited the distillery in 2018 and got to experience first hand, so I was very excited when we managed to persuade the brand ambassador Rob to visit the club in London and host a tasting.
The distillery was founded by Daniel Szor in 2014 and the following is quoted from the distillery website:
“When Dan first found the site it was in a bit of a state – the shell of the two buildings were here but nothing else. We set about restoring the buildings to working order, landscaping the grounds and then creating the region’s first full-scale distillery. We opened our doors in September 2014 and have welcomed visitors to the site every day since.”https://www.cotswoldsdistillery.com/pages/our-locations
They were helped out by the late Dr Jim Swan, who pioneered the use of STR casks. These shaved, toasted and re-charred wine barrels were designed to mature quickly and give the spirit the fruity notes Dan was looking for. They also malt 100% of their barley in traditional floor maltings at Warminster, Britain’s oldest floor maltings.
It was a great turnout and Rob was a superb host. He is clearly very knowledgeable and loves his job, but to be fair who wouldn’t. He spent time talking us through the distillery’s history, production processes and offerings for sale. Listening to him, it was clear how much the company and management care about putting flavour first and they are happy to sacrifice yield/output to get that right. We started the tasting with the new make spirit, always an interesting experience and a constant reminder of how much changes with a little bit of time and wood. It was a good experience to try and laid the groundwork for what was to come. Next up we tried the standard single malt offering, only young still but very tasty and proves that they’ve nailed the brief of creating a young, fruity and very enjoyable whisky. That was followed up with the Founders Choice, which is effectively a cask strength version of the standard single malt. This one was very special and my highlight of the night. I currently have one bottle of this and as soon as it’s finished I’ll be buying a second, superb stuff and full of flavour. Next up were a couple of distillery exclusive bottles, one from a sherry cask and the other a peated cask. Both were delicious and gave a sneak peek into what might be on the horizon. We finished the tasting with some cream liqueur which, to many people’s surprise, went down very well indeed. Full list of drams below…
- New Make Spirit 63.5%
- Cotswolds Single Malt 46.0%
- Cotswolds Founder’s Choice 60.9%
- Cotswolds Distillery Exclusive Sherry Cask 60.0%
- Cotswolds Distillery Exclusive Peated Cask 62.0%
- Cotswolds Cream Liqueur 17.0%
Once again, thanks to Rob, it was his effort and enthusiasm that made the evening so special. It was also lovely of him to stay behind after the tasting had finished and join in with the club tradition of opening and sharing all sorts of other drams. Casually chatting to Rob at the end of the night was a real pleasure and he was also generous enough to raffle away a free bottle of single malt, won by Zhenna. Thanks also to everyone who attended and we look forward to our next distillery tasting later in the year when Ibon comes to visit us again, this time bringing some treats from Glen Scotia.