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Review

Cotswolds Dry Gin

Distillery

The Cotswold Distilling Company Ltd., The Cotswolds Distillery, Stourton, Shipston-on-Stour, Warwickshire, England, UK.

Website

The Cotswolds Distillery

History

Founded and owned by Daniel Szor the distillery was opened in summer 2014 but it had been a long time coming… Dan had been born in Manhattan, New York, USA and pursued a career in Finance, spending a decade in Paris, France before moving to London, UK in 2006 with his British wife Katia. During this time he started to become familiar with Scottish Whisky through regular visits to distilleries. He also fell in love with the Cotswolds, a beautiful area of England, and ended up purchasing a farmhouse as a weekend retreat from his busy city life as a Hedge Fund Investment manager.

One Sunday in the summer of 2012, looking out of his farmhouse window and gazing at barley growing in a nearby field, Dan had the beginnings of an idea to combine the barley, living in the Cotswolds permanently and his love for Whisky. Having followed the craft distillery movement in the USA and now the UK he set about setting up the first one in the Cotswolds with the company incorporated by the summer of 2013. Today the distillery is gaining momentum with the help of a small team of distillers (including Head Distiller Alex Davies previously from William Chase) and several consultants (Scotsmen: Harry Cockburn previously from the Bowmore Distillery on Islay and Jim Swan a world expert in the maturation and aging of whisky). They have released several products and have been making large amounts of Whisky, the first expected to come to market in the fall of 2017.

This Gin, the first ever made in the Cotswolds, was launched in September 2014, with an inaugural batch of 7,000 bottles. They had created over 50 original Gin recipes, and reduced this to their top 12 for blind tasting tests, before deciding on this one.

Production

The Gin is made from a bought in wheat spirit base and using a tailor-made 500-liter hybrid still. Made by Arnold Hostein GmbH of Markdorf, Germany the still is comprised of a carter head, onion head and column and has been named Lorelei, after a famous water spirit (mermaid) from the Rhine River. The angelica root, coriander and juniper berries are added to the still with the base spirit and steeped for up to 24 hours prior to distillation. The remaining botanicals are added to the carter head and vapor infused with this macerated spirit. The resultant distillate is non-chill filtered before being reduced down to bottling strength with naturally refined Cotswolds water.

The Gin is presented in a tall round dark green (almost black) colored glass bottle with round shoulders and slight tapering from the bottom to the top (widest). It has a square black colored label with scalloped corners and a silver colored border, supported by white colored text. This includes “Cotswolds Dry Gin” clearly written in the center and a small image of a Pheasant above. The label and outer carton is the design work of Craig Mackinlay from Scottish based Breeze Creative Design Consultants, known for their product design work in the Drinks Industry (including Darnley’s View Gin). 

Category

London Dry Gin.

Alcohol By Volume (ABV)

46% (92 Proof).

Price Range

$$$$$ - $$$$$$. Available in the UK and some mainland European countries including Germany, Belgium and France. The Gin is also being imported into the US via MHW Ltd., and can be purchased from Mister Wright Fine Wines.  

International purchases can also be achieved through Master of Malt in the UK but expect to pay around 40% extra for shipping costs (for 1 bottle, decreasing the more bottles ordered). 

Botanicals

Uses 9 botanicals: angelica root, bay leaf (local), cardamom, coriander, grapefruit (fresh), juniper berries, lavender (local & fresh), lime peel and pepper (black).

The Cotswolds Distillery uses the services of Benedict Pollard as their Chief Botanical Officer. Besides being a local resident in the Cotswolds, Benedict is an expert Botanist with over several decades of experience, including research expeditions to exotic locations and work with the world famous botanical gardens in Kew, London, UK.

Name

The Cotswolds is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) found in the South West of Central England, UK. It is characterized by the yellow colored Jurassic limestone bedrock of the region regularly used for stonewalls and buildings, including historical towns and stately homes. This strongly rural setting includes an abundance of grain crops, which along with the stone, creates many picturesque golden-hued villages.

Although the region is relatively small (around 2,250 square miles in area) it touches across 6 counties (mostly Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire) and is a haven for millions of tourists (both foreign and domestic) each year. With the Distillery being the first in this area it is not surprising for it’s first Gin to be named after the area too, and accounts for their tagline: “Outstanding Natural Spirits.”

With regard to the etymology of Cotswold: “Wold” is an Old English name for hills and the “Cots” could either be the term for a sheep enclosure or a personal family name (possibly “Cod”). If the later this may have been derived from the old Brittonic name “Cuda”, the name of a Mother Goddess from Celtic Mythology.

Tasting Notes

On the nose is juniper with floral notes (lavender), plus traces of citrus (grapefruit) and earthy peppery spice (cardamom). On the palate this has a lightly sweet smooth full-bodied mouth feel from the wheat-based spirit. It has sharp citrus (grapefruit), pine (juniper) and pepper (cardamom and perhaps coriander) flavors with green herbal characteristics (bay leaf and angelica) and floral (lavender) notes. Some people pick up hints of a liquorice/aniseed-like flavor, but this escaped us. The flavor profile continues on the close, although there is a more rounded citrus note (lime) and increased juniper plus hints of cooling menthol eucalyptus (from the cardamom) with a long dry floral and celery-like finish (angelica). This is a richly balanced and complex Gin with delicate notes in the background. Note: The non-chill filtering results in more essential oil molecules being retained in the Gin and, when ice or water is added, it gains a blue tinged cloudy opaque appearance. This reaction known as louching, despite its appearance, has no negative impact on the Gin.

This is a juniper-led classically styled Gin with modern aspects to it and is a delight to sip on its own (adding some ice and a citrus twist according to personal taste). Despite some of it’s softer aspects it achieves a robust stand in a Gin and Tonic (Fever Tree is a good choice), with the citrus/spice mix making for a very pleasing and warming drink we can particularly advocate for the cooler months. We found a lime garnish worked best for us but the recommended garnish of grapefruit and a bay leaf proved a close runner-up, alternatively try 3-4 peppercorns and fresh coriander leaf. When mixed with Vermouth this makes for a nicely dry tasting Martini with a wonderful aroma of floral herbal pine and found a grapefruit twist to be an excellent compliment. Although not tried by us, we understand from David Smith at Summer Fruit Cup that this also works well when mixed with Soda water.  

Overall a bold flavored spirit for traditional Gin drinkers, with good versatility, both with short and longer mixed drinks. This is easy to recommend and one to add to any bar or drinks cabinet, the kudos this Gin has gained is well earned, with Dan and his team at the Cotswold Distillery deserving all praise.

Awards & Accolades

Five Stars "Outstanding", Difford's Guide.

Platinum Medal, Spirits International Prestige Awards, 2015.

Drinks Product of the Year, Costswold Life Food & Drink Awards, 2015.



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