Last weekend, we took advantage of the brief sunshine to head deep into the Cotswolds and tour the Cotswolds Distillery. Having been gifted a bottle of their whisky by Sarah, I was excited to see how this small corner of the Cotswolds was turning local grain into my favourite spirit.
Upon arrival, we were greeted by the friendly resident dog and a glowing woodburner. As we were a little early for the tour, we made ourselves at home in the comfortable drawing room, and became rather enamoured with the owner’s extensive spirit collection. Serious envy right here! Once everyone had arrived, we watched a short introductory video and followed Angus to the distillery.
Having visited several of the larger Scottish distilleries, it is obvious that the artisanal focus extends way beyond the spirits. This compact operation occupies a classic Cotswold stone building, surrounded by glorious countryside and filled to the brim with shiny copper miracle makers.
Angus was one of the best tour guides I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting, and gave us a fun, yet informative overview of the journey from barley to bottle. He was a great ambassador for for the brand; you get a clear sense that everyone involved with the Cotswolds Distillery is highly passionate and dedicated to the cause…the distillery runs 7 days a week and last year, they only took one week off from production.
Angus explained that they are currently manufacturing gin and a whole host of interesting side projects, all of which are available from the on-site shop, whilst they wait for the whisky to mature. Luckily for us, that meant a wide range of products from sherry to espresso martini were waiting for us to taste back in the drawing room.
Angus made the tasting session into a real experience; he explained how best to drink gin and demonstrated that as a non-chill filtered gin, it turns cloudy when you add ice; the result of essential oils from all of the beautiful botanicals separating slightly. Most brands filter this before bottling, but it removes a lot of the mouth feel and botanical flavours. You can certainly tell the difference and the pink grapefruit and lavender flavours from the distillation really come through. It isn’t particularly conventional to sip gin neat, but this gin might change that for me.
Even better, this is the gin managed to succeed where so many others have failed, and convince my gin hating wife to become a gin lover. A bottle was swiftly purchased, and is a wonderful addition to our drinks cabinet, especially when paired with Bottlegreen’s new range of tonic water – another local favourite of ours.
Sarah particularly loved the Cream Liqueur – with soft caramel undertones it wasn’t as sickly sweet as the leading brand, and I think if we had left her alone with the bottle she would have been very happy indeed.
We also got to try the Single Malt Spirit…whilst legally not yet whisky, this “pre-whisky” was a great indicator of what’s to come from this distillery. Personally, I can’t wait until my bottle is ready in 2017.
Whatever your tipple, the Cotswolds Distillery is sure to excite and delight both distillery enthusiasts and the occasional drinker alike. I urge you to go and discover it for yourselves.