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.

A Sneak Preview of Adnams Whisky

Today, in addition to being Repeal Day* in the US, is also particularly exciting for another reason: today is the day that Adnams, the Distillery behind Broadside beer and – a particular favourite of mine – Spirit of Broadside, unveiled their whiskies for the very first time.

Jonathan Adnams Introduces the new Whisky

Jonathan Adnams Introduces the new Whisky

Now, technically, whisky must be aged in barrels for three years and these have only had two years so far, so they are more “whiskies-in-the-making”, but that by no means lessens my excitement over trying them.

The enthusiasm and energy of the folks at the Copper House Distillery is infectious and the sheer range of handcrafted products that they’ve managed to produce in the last two years is amazing (including three vodkas, two gins, two absinthes, a sloe gin and a number of liqueurs). I’m particularly fond of how they combine the scientific processes and more creative side of microdistilling, as well as how they combine both of these with the historic traditions and local pride of Adnams Brewery.

But let’s focus a little more on the whiskies…

The Whiskies-In-The-Making

Adnams Distiller John McCarthy tells us a little more about the Whisky

Adnams Distiller John McCarthy tells us a little more about the Whisky

We have two whiskies to try: one is made with the same wash as Adnams Copper House Barley Vodka, using East Anglian barley, and is matured in French oak barrels; the other uses the same wash as Adnams Longshore Premium Vodka, using a combination of wheat, East Anglian barley and oats, and is matured in American oak barrels.

It’s worth noting again that these whiskies are made in their entirety at Adnams, including the base spirit and the grains are locally sourced. The combination of brewery and distillery means that they have everything they need to start from scratch and therefore not only build the flavour from the base spirit up, but also ensure the high quality of the spirit.

As their names, etc. will be finalised over the next year, I’ll refer to them for now by number.

AdnamsWhisky SingleMaltWhisky 1 – (43% ABV) – made with East Anglian barley; aged in New French oak
(Barrels have a medium+ toast excluding cask heads)

Nose: Lovely, warm barley notes, backed by a cosy, yeasty note that reminds of warm, rising bread dough, but with a distinct sweetness to it, like a very light syrup (rather than Golden Syrup or honey – more like the lighter syrup that you get on steamed puddings). Wonderfully different and comforting – just what I was hoping for!
Taste: Light and smooth, but with a good warmth towards the end. The oak comes through first for me, as a really fresh, white wood note, followed by the weightier barley notes. Light hints of that same, dough-like yeast – not at all overpowering – appear throughout, bringing back positive memories of the Spirit of Broadside, only lighter.
Finish; Warm, almost chewy wood, that’s ever-so-slightly sweet.

AdnamsWhisky 3GrainWhisky 2 – (43% ABV) made with wheat, barley and oats; aged in New American oak
(Barrels have a medium+ toast, this time including cask heads)

Nose: Warmer and more complex than No. 1. More savoury notes come into play, which I assume is down to the wheat and/or oats, and there are sweeter wood notes towards the end, much more like golden syrup.
Taste: Savoury, with a notable, heavy, creamy note at the start that has aspects of yeast flavour from No. 1. This interplays with more dry, savoury notes of wheat and sweetness from the wood and lasts for a good while.
Finish: A very long, persistent finish of charred wood.

These will be released in 2013 (at the age of 3 years). In 2014, two new varieties of whisky are scheduled to be released: an 100% Rye (yup, a full 100%) aged in Russian oak; and a fourth incarnation, which will be aged in ex-Bourbon casks.

In Conclusion
I had high expectations of these, but, in my opinion, Adnams have already outdone themselves, producing two whiskies with such personality and character. I eagerly await the remaining 365 days before they are finished and released; in particular, No. 1, with its smooth, but no-nonsense profile of barley, bread dough and lightly sweet wood; neither too sweet or savoury, but just right. Bring on 2013!

– Mrs. B.

* Prohibition was repealed back on 5th December 1933.