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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Cocktails with… Cotswold Distillery’s Espresso Martini

Bottled cocktails are both something rather old and rather newsworthy; that is, after many, many years in the wilderness, they are starting to make a comeback. The attraction is simple: excellent, high-quality cocktails that are ready to drink with minimal preparation and a convenient, affordable price.

Cotswolds Espresso Martini - Botttle FINAL

We’ve written about the excellent range by Master of Malt, but, on a recent trip to the Cotswolds Distillery, I learnt how they had taken a slightly different approach when making an Espresso Martini.

The Espresso Martini was created in the 1990s by Dick Bradshaw and typically consists of a mix of vodka, coffee liqueur, sugar syrup and fresh espresso. At the Cotswolds Distillery, however, they make their bottled cocktail not through a compounding of the various ingredients, but by producing a range of distillates: coffee (Enorga and Malabar), coriander seed, fresh orange peel, and spice (mace, cassia, and cinnamon). These are then blended together and lightly sweetened. Let’s see what it tastes like.

Cotswolds Espresso Martini - Frozen FINALOn its own (from the freezer)
Nose: Dark, rich coffee beans and rich fruit.
Taste: More rich coffee, mingled with dark chocolate and cherry, followed by a delicate sweetness that gradually intensifies to a short, but lovely, genuine sugar note. Towards the finish, the notes of chocolate are combined with spiced orange.
Finish: Light, intriguing floral notes of coriander and rose or violet creams here and there, with the continuation of the same fruity, chocolate and coffee notes.

Cotswolds Espresso Martini - Soda FINALTall Espresso Martini (with soda)
This has lovely – and decidedly non-sickly – notes of chocolate orange; in particular, cocoa powder and a sweet fruitiness (both orange and richer, darker fruit like cherry). The fizz lightens the drink so that it has an almost cola-like element to it at the start, which gradually develops into notes of coffee and dry cocoa. A great way to make a spirited version of a coffee soda.

In Conclusion
Cotswolds Distillery’s Espresso Martini is full of flavour and unexpected complexities, making it an excellent example of how a bottled cocktail can be much more than something you could make at home. I also liked the innovative method of production, and am intrigued to know what other products might be available in the future.

The Espresso Martini would be perfectly placed at the end of a meal on its own (with its fruity, chocolatey, coffee notes), or at any time when mixed with soda. Now I’m just left with the conundrum of deciding how to drink the rest of our bottle!

Cocktails with… Cotswold’s Distillery’s Spirited Sherry

It’s great to see so many new distilleries open across the UK, as well as the return of whisky production, but of course both producers and would-be consumers of Anglo-whisky need to be patient, as it takes three years and a day to produce spirit that can legally be called whisky.

Of course, distillers being innovative sorts and consumers being rather impatient, you can occasionally get a sneak peek of what is to come. Good examples include the English Whisky Distillery early Chapters series, London Distilling Company’s unaged rye spirit, and the English Spirit Distillery’s Expedition series.

On a recent trip to the beautiful Cotswolds Distillery, we picked up a bottle of “Spirited Sherry”, described as “a delicious marriage of our own sherry-cask aged malt spirit with finest Pedro Ximenez sherry”. When the Cotswolds first whisky is released in a little over two years, it will contain some sherry-aged whisky.

Cotswolds Spirited Sherry

The Taste

On its own
Colour: Deep, rich brown with a hint of burgundy.
Nose: Warm notes of Pedro Ximenez that don’t overwhelm and develops into nose of rich fruit cake and spice: cherry, raspberry, and raisin, all with just a hint of cola and honey.
Taste: This is a smooth and flavourful spirit with a great profile. It starts dry, with notes of dried apple and sherry-soaked wood, before it gradually, but decidedly, grows sweeter and moves onto notes of raisin and tart apple.
Finish: The spirit warms on the finish and the rich, fruity notes of Pedro Ximenez including raisin and honey come through strongly. It then becomes dry as it fades with woody notes and a hint of black pepper.

Old Fashioned
A delightful, lighter version of an Old Fashioned. The beginning is light, but lively, with notes of the Pedro Ximenez coming through, accompanied by more tropical, fruity notes, such as dried pineapple and a hint of orange. Towards the finish, the notes lighten even more (unlike some Old Fashioneds, which can turn syrupy and sickly), with echoes of the sherry and maple coming through.

Manhattan
A very summery Manhattan, with – again – a lighter mouthfeel, but still a good burst of flavour. Rich fruit comes out to start, but dry, not sweet. The vermouth then appears on the palate, with a rush of sweetness before a much drier finish of the Pedro Ximenez combined with woody vanilla notes.

In Conclusion
This is a wonderful spirit with great potential to produce traditional whisky cocktails that have a lighter texture with no reduction in flavour. The Pedro Ximenez came through in all of the drinks that we tried, but didn’t dominate, allowing for other fruit notes to appear. A delightful, well-thought-out product from the Cotswolds Distillery.

Spirited Sherry is a distillery exclusive and is available from the Cotswolds Distillery at £11.95 for 20cl or £34.95 for 70cl.