Cocktails with… Cotswolds Single Malt Whisky

Last week, DTS & I were lucky enough to go on a long overdue trip back to The Cotswolds Distillery to celebrate the recent release of their Cotwolds Single Malt Whisky, which has been patiently maturing in a combination of reconditioned red wine casks and first-fill ex-Bourbon casks.

The distillery, set in the hypnotically peaceful countryside of the Cotswolds, was founded in 2014 and have produced an award-winning gin, along with a range of other products like their Spirited Sherry, 1616 Barrel Aged Gin, and a Summer Cup. All the while, though, they have been distilling new make spirit and filling barrels in preparation for a whisky, and their first release is finally here. Although the inaugural release has sold out, a limited number of bottles will be available for Christmas and we were able to purchase a bottle at the Distillery shop, which we eagerly took home and tried out in a few different serves.

Cotswolds Single Malt whisky

On its own

Nose: Beautifully fruity notes of banana with toffee and caramel (or porridge oats with honey and banana), and a richness reminiscent of whipped cream. After a while, notes of pineapple upside-down cake and a dash of marzipan develop, along with hints of red berries that quickly transform into notes of red grapes, especially the skins.

Taste: Given the fruity nose, I was initially surprised – not unpleasantly so – to find that the palate starts out with distinct notes of cereal and grain. This grows more complex as herbal and spice notes develop, accompanied by fruity wood flavours and hints of charred wood, too.

Finish: Delightful fruit notes return on the finish, with notes of banana bread and pineapple cream that gradually fade into clean oak with a dash of black pepper.

On our visit, we were also able to try some of the unaged new make spirit, which was fascinating. Not only was it a brilliant spirit on its own, but it was great to see where the whisky’s fundamental character started and how much of that comes from the local barley.

Cotswolds New Make

Sweet and fruity with lots of pineapple, banana, cream and light caramel notes – this is almost rum-like in character. The palate is ruled by the barley notes, which are smooth, but develop neatly onto the finish, taking on more of a chewy cereal flavour.

The fruitiness of the new make spirit is partially down to the yeast used in the fermentation process. Cotswolds use two types of yeast: Anchor, and a second variety, Fermentis, which results in more tropical fruit flavours and aromas.

On the Rocks

We quickly discovered that one of our favourite ways to drink this – and a perfect serve for a summer evening – was over ice. The richer caramel flavours are less prominent, but remain on the mouthfeel, making this a dryer drink. Notes of oak are accompanied by more herbal flavours at the start, before making way for notes from the barley.

Cotswolds Single MAlt whiksy - on the rocks

Whisky Ginger

Delicious, confectionery notes of caramelised banana, creamy vanilla and toffee that fade into sweet ginger. With additional sips, hints of red apple and grape become intermingled amongst smooth cereal flavours, reminiscent of a spiced caramel apple betty. This is an indulgent Whisky Ginger full of rich flavours, but is impressively balanced by a more woody and grain focused finish.

Whisky Soda

For those who prefer a dryer long drink, this would be a good choice. Dry, but creamy notes of chocolate come through to start, followed by salted caramel. More tropical fruit flavours then appear, ensuring that this doesn’t become astringent, before a light, but luxurious finish of banana and toffee (particularly, Toffo sweets).

Rob Roy

This works well, with the whisky’s richness and sweet fruit and caramel notes neatly highlighted by the red fruit and herbal notes of the vermouth. The whisky’s toffee and cereal notes also come through well, despite the strong flavours of this cocktail, before a very dry, woody and particularly herbal finish that lingers pleasantly on the palate. This would work well as either an aperitif or a digestif.

In Conclusion

As we toured the distillery, it struck me that the Cotswolds team had used a fascinating combination of traditional expertise – learning from people who have been in the industry for decades – and their own experimentation to produce their whisky, not being afraid to do things a little differently if they preferred the spirit that it produced.

They focused on producing a great new make spirit that captured the flavour of their local barley and the result is a lively, flavourful whisky that is fun and tastes great. Highly recommended.

  • Mrs. B

Our 70cl bottle from the Distillery shop cost £44.95. If you’d like to keep an eye on the availability of Cotswolds Single Malt Whisky, you can do so on their website or at Master of Malt.

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Whispers of Whisk(e)y returns… Johnnie Walker The Adventurer

Today’s review, which comes after far too long a break, takes a look at another whisky: one from the Johnnie Walker Explorers’ Club Collection, a series inspired by the journeys of those who took Johnnie Walker across the world. Available via travel retail, you might have spotted these as you explored the whisky sections of Duty Free shops.

DTS and I first encountered The Adventurer before a trip to America a couple of years ago and we were a little confused at its store placement: very much apart from the other Explorers’ Club whiskies and with little information available on it. Intrigued, we bought a bottle. That was a few years (and bottles) ago.

johnnie-walker-adventurer-final

On its own

Nose: A saline, almost briney smokiness to start, with notes of tobacco, dry wood chips, and echoes of pineapple. Lovely spiced notes build up over time.

Taste: Very soft on the tongue, but with more force of flavour on the palate afterwards. There is a pleasant smokiness, before lasting notes of dry, not tart pineapple, light wood, and chilli, then sweeter spice with more smoke on the finish. A lovely dram that, personally, I think is perfectly halfway between the Red and Black Labels.

Rob Roy

Pleasantly dry, but the Rosso comes through well. Wisps of smoke are followed by lots of complex herbal notes. The finish remains lovely and dry, with notes of dark liquorice and a hint of berries. Finally, there is a clean, light, and woody smokiness.

Old Fashioned

The Adventurer makes an unusually sharp, almost bitter Old Fashioned that makes a wonderful aperitif. Subdued honey notes are followed by the smoke and spice. Like the Rob Roy, its finish is very dry, but full of smoky flavours, along with a little lime and vanilla.

Whisky Soda

Exceptionally dry, this is a refreshing, grown up drink. The soda water lengthens the whisky well, without masking any of its flavours. To start, there is dry vanilla, before a flash of sweeter smoke, then more charred notes that linger on a refreshing, woody finish.

Whisky Ginger

Again, this works well, but produces a much sweeter drink than the others. It is creamy, too, with lots of vanilla and just a dash of smokiness – more than you’d get with the Red Label, but not as much as with the Black Label. The finish is long, with solid notes from both the ginger and the whisky’s oak notes.

 

It is worth noting that the Explorers’ Club Collection covers a broad price range, but The Adventurer is the cheapest, at around £32 for a litre in Duty Free. It can be found for around £40-45 in the UK. Given the combination of price point and the international theme of the collection, we decided to try a few additional, unusual long drinks alongside our normal line-up.

with Coconut Water

This is an unexpectedly brilliant, refreshing drink. The coconut water adds the extra sweetness and creaminess that The Adventurer holds back on, resulting in smooth notes of pineapple and light coconut that fade into smoke, dry apple, and oak on the finish. Exceptionally easy to drink, especially in warmer weather.

with Ting

These flavours, again, go surprisingly well together – there is bright, vibrant, citrus (lemon and grapefruit) that flows seamlessly into the light smokiness of the whisky. The finish has notes of vanilla and pineapple, and a continued stream of smokiness.

with Fentiman’s Curiosity Cola

Intrigued at how well some of these combinations were turning out, we decided to try The Adventurer up against one of my favourite (and most flavourful) soft drinks: Fentiman’s Curiosity Cola. The result? A tasty drink with great structure and body. Not too sweet, there’s a dry woodiness to start, that is quickly swept up in the complex, herbal flavours from the cola. The Adventurer’s smokiness appears on the finish – soft to start, but gradually increasing – and works very well with the more medicinal notes of the mixer.

In Conclusion

The Adventurer is a great addition to the Johnnie Walker line-up. With its light texture, but combination of distinct smokiness, dry pineapple, and spiced notes, it makes for a whisky that is both easy to sip – sitting midway between the Red and Black Labels in taste – and works exceptionally well in mixed drinks. A firm favourite in our household.

— Mrs. B.

Cocktails with… Sipsmith Lemon Drizzle Gin

Lemon Gin was a regular fixture of the early 19th Century, with Gordon’s and Plymouth both making varieties. These gins were often made via infusion, but fast-forward to the 21st Century and Sipsmith have resurrected the idea with their distilled Lemon Drizzle Gin.

Originally released as a part of their pilot Quarterly Sipping Service (recently more formally launched as the Sipping Society), such was the popularity of the gin, especially with employees of Marks & Spencer, that production was increased and M&S given the product as an exclusive. Here are my thoughts!

sipsmith-lemon-drizzle-gin

On its own

Nose: Zesty citrus oil and a creamy, citrus blossom, plus a little coriander and leafiness.

Taste: A thick texture and slight sweetness, followed by a fine array of citrus notes; a combination of the fruit, leaf, and flower of citrus that combines to give a lemony flavour in 6:1 surround. Like many signature botanical gins, the juniper is paired back, but that, along with angelica and coriander, is evident towards the finish.

Gin Tonic

Bright, clean, crisp citrus notes sing through, making a very refreshing, really delicious drink – a textbook Gin & Tonic.

Martini

Delightful citrus notes, creamy, and delicate; reminiscent of a lemon syllabub, or – indeed – a lemon drizzle cake, with a crisp, dry finish.

Negroni

A cocktail with a strong and balanced flavour with an extra liveliness from the lemon, which is well-integrated and wonderfully smooth.

In Conclusion

Sipsmith Lemon Drizzle is a fun, modern interpretation of the lemon gins of old. The fact that the flavour is 100% distilled is a great improvement in quality compared with those of the 1930s-1940s. If you are near a Marks & Spencer, it is well worth seeking this out. My favourite cocktail was the Gin Tonic.

Sipsmith Lemon Drizzle Gin is available for around £24 for 500ml Exclusively from Marks and Spencer.

The Cognac Advent Calendar

I have seen more varieties of Advent calendars this year than ever before, containing all manner of treats beyond the normal chocolate of my childhood calendars: tea, cosmetics, sock yarn, and – of course – the wonderful Ginvent and other Master of Malt Advent Calendars.

This year, however, I’m eagerly looking forward to exploring a different spirit category in my calendar: Cognac! In addition to gin and whisky, Master of Malt also produce a wide range of calendars looking at different spirits, whether that be rum, vodka, a range of whiskies, or even – as DTS will be reviewing this year – something as innovative as distillates of different junipers. So there’s a calendar for everyone’s favourite tipple!

masterofmaltcognacadventcalendar

I have to admit, though, that I’m really very excited at the prospect of their Cognac Advent Calendar – what a wonderful way to try a range of Cognacs, identify some favourites, and expand my palate for the spirit, all whilst counting down to Christmas Day?

You can follow my daily posts on Instragram and Twitter, which you can follow at @saraandthebear or using #CognacAdvent. I’ll also do an interim report roughly halfway through.

Bring on 1st December!

– Mrs. B.

Cocktails with… Jameson Select Reserve Black Barrel

It’s St. Patrick’s Day today and we thought we’d resist temptation (however strong it may be) to write an article full of green concoctions to focus instead on making excellent drinks with an excellent whiskey. Namely, Jameson Select Reserve Black Barrel. The Black Barrel is, like Classic Jamesons, a mix of pot and grain whisky and is triple distilled. However, the grain whisky that is used is made to a particular specification and is only distilled once a year. The ex-bourbon barrels used for aging are charred before leaving Kentucky and ex-sherry barrels are used, too.

JamesonBlackFINAL

On its own
Nose: Light oats and syrup, but not too sweet, and a little banoffee, but – again – this isn’t at all overpowering. On top, more savoury oatcake notes and just a hint of cornflakes.
Taste: Smooth, but with a good profile. Salted caramel and fresh grain, with hints of spice and smoke here and there. Pleasant, clean, warm wood notes follow.
Finish: Flapjack and a return of the light banoffee from the nose, plus notes of unripe banana and a little green “stalkiness”.

Whiskey Ginger
This has a wonderful rich flavour – an excellent example of how a Whiskey Ginger doesn’t have to be lightweight. The whiskey works with the ginger to produce a drink with notes of rich, bold, polished wood and a combination of fresh ginger and cola (it reminds me a bit of Fentiman’s Curiosity Cola, of which I’m a fan). There’s also some spice and a hint of orange, before vanilla and a dry, woody smokiness.

Rob Roy
Delicious fruit cake notes on the nose: rich currant and raisin, and the tartness of tbe vermouth comes through nicely. To taste, this is also rich and fruity. The whiskey lets the other ingredients show through, before appearing strongly on the finish, which is of genuine, dry wood.

Old Fashioned
I got light hints of bubblegum on the nose of this drink, which were actually quite nice. The cocktail itself is sweet and warming, with richer wood notes than in the Rob Roy. There’s an interesting combination of sweet berry and pepper spice, plus vanilla, and – again – a touch of cola. The finish is cleaner and dry, with greener wood notes.

Michael Collins
This is a Tom Collins made using Irish whiskey and this particular example is refreshing with some lovely, creamy vanilla notes and some smoky wood, too. The lemon really comes through on the finish, reminiscent of lemon meringue pie with a touch of key lime; add a touch of spiced bitters and you’d be there. Accessible and fresh.

Whisky Soda
Unlike when tasted neat, with soda, far more of the mellow, creamy wood and vanilla notes come through, with less of that smoky woodiness. This is a very accessible drink, with sweet, creamy notes followed by a refreshing, dry, woody finish.

In Conclusion
Jameson’s Select Reserve is a great Irish whiskey that’s full of flavour and works equally well on its own and in cocktails. My favourite of the serves that we tried, however, surprised me: the warm and complex Whiskey Ginger really stood out.

Cocktails with… Jack Daniels No.27 Gold

Both of us here at SummerFruitCup HQ are big fans of travel retail exclusives and our article covering a range of Jack Daniels products is one of the most popular on the site, so when I saw Jack Daniels Gold No. 27 at Duty Free at San Francisco Airport recently, my interest was piqued. When I saw that it wasn’t just a new bottle or different ABV, I decided to pick up a bottle.

Jack Daniels Gold No. 27 is a double barrelled, double mellowed whiskey, which is then finished in maple barrels and bottled at 40% ABV. Double mellowed refers to the fact that the spirit is mellowed through a column of charcoal both before and after aging (Gentleman Jack is also double mellowed).

Jack Daniels No27 Gold Whisky FINAL

On its own
Nose: Fresh, creamy creme brulee topped with caramelised light brown sugar, backed up by the richness of a brandy.
Taste: Very sippable, with a pleasant warmth to it. The texture is creamy – almost like melted ice-cream – with vibrant grain notes and flashes of fresh oak, before fleeting, slightly more bitter wood notes.
Finish: Relatively long and pleasant, with notes of oak and vanilla, and hints of maple and perfectly ripe banana.

With Soda
Defiantly dry on the palate, but also smooth, light, and refreshing. There’s a complexity at the end in the form of a maple sweetness, which makes this slightly sweeter than other Whiskey Sodas (maybe a good choice if you usually like your whisky with ginger). It’s also creamy in texture and would be excellent with a meal, especially during the warmer months.

Old Fashioned
Top notch: banoffee on the nose, with lively notes of roasted banana, creamy toffee, and some grain notes afterwards. These flavours follow onto the palate, which is smooth and creamy, with a good warmth to it. The finish is much dryer, with more, but more subtle notes of roasted banana.

Rob Roy
Straight forward, but full of flavour, with a pleasant, fruity tang from the vermouth. There’s a dry, lingering, slightly musty, sherry-like finish with woody overtones. Not at all sweet, but rich and punchy.

Whiskey Ginger
Another rich cocktail, but with a light texture. Easy to drink at any time of day, with notes of creamy fudge, maple syrup, a woody sappiness, ginger, and vibrant lemon that arrives on the palate with a burst of freshness, before a return to dryer banoffee notes.

In Conclusion
Gold No. 27 is a welcome, if slightly expensive, addition to the Jack Daniels family. Its smooth, banoffee notes are well balanced with vanilla oak and it works equally well on its own or in mixed drinks, where it adds flavour without overpowering or overcomplicating things. Our bottle disappeared very quickly, indeed, and I was particularly impressed with the Old Fashioned and Whiskey Ginger.
– Mrs. B.

Jack Daniels Gold No. 27 is a travel retail exclusive, available in certain duty free shops in airports across the world and priced around £65.

Hven Seven Stars No.3 Phecda Organic Single Malt Whisky

Hven is a family run distillery on a small island of the same name in the Strait between Denmark and Sweden. DTS reviewed their Organic Gin here, but today I’m taking a look at one of their single malt whiskies: Seven Stars No.3: Phecda. It is the third in a limited edition series; one whisky is being released each year until 2019, each of which is named after one of the seven stars in the constellation Ursa Major (the Plough). Phecda follows Dubhe and Merak.

Hven Seven Stars No3 FINAL

The whisky is bottled at the distillery at 45% ABV and is certified organic. Let’s see what it tastes like.

On its own
Nose: Meaty smokiness on top, with a rich note of ginger underneath – fresh gingerbread and salty seat air. With a bit of warmth and time in the glass, notes of honey and fruity vermouth come through.
Taste: Wonderfully smooth. The start is light and silky, followed by a flash of warmth and honey sweetness. Dry flavours then unfold in the form of complex notes of chilli spice, slightly bitter tobacco, and a light nuttiness.
Finish: A soft woodiness on top, with dry, complex notes of bonfire smoke underneath.

Rob Roy
Smooth and well-integrated, with flavours of smoke and berry fruitiness (cranberry and raspberry), followed by cola, a hint of dark chocolate, dry biscuit, and sherry-soaked wood. The finish is dry, smokey, and woody with touches of berry sweetness and a more green, herbal note.

Old Fashioned
Absolutely delicious. Rich Pedro Ximinez spice, berries, and grape and a strong, bonfire smokiness. A complex, but beautiful array of spice, sweet dark sugar, a little fruit cake, and a dash of cherry, but with a the savoury freshness of a red bell pepper. This fades into woody liquorice notes with hints of cream sherry and creamy, dark coffee.

Whisky & Soda
A refreshing and complex drink. The soda water lengthens and cools the spirit without masking its complexity. Smooth, sweet notes are followed by deeper, more resinous and lightly smokey wood notes, which are kept bright by the mixer’s effervescence.

In Conclusion
I think the concept behind the Seven Star whiskies is a brilliant one and No.3 Phecda is wonderful whisky: not too heavy, but with a full flavour profile that develops over time. It also works exceptionally well in all of the cocktails that we tried, although the Old Fashioned stood out in particular.

– Mrs. B.