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.

A Whisky Tasting with… Grant’s Blended Scotch

Grant’s Whisky

Edinburgh will always have a special place in my heart: it wasn’t just where DBS & I spent our honeymoon, but where I first fell in love with whisky. So it seemed fitting that on a recent trip we held a little whisky tasting. Our setting, perhaps somewhat unconventionally, was Carlton Hill, towering above the city. This windswept location is home to the Nelson Monument and the Observatory.

On a particularly windy lunchtime DBS & I made the climb up the hill to find a secluded spot on which to try two whiskies; the drams of choice being Grant’s Ale and Grant’s Sherry casks.

Regular readers may remember my review of the Grant’s Odyssey Liqueur, which can be found here. In response, Grant’s were kind enough to send me some miniature bottles of these two whiskies; the perfect size to fit in a travel case!
Grant’s Ale Cask

Despite being atop the windy hill in Edinburgh, I could easily make out the savoury start to this whisky’s nose; it then faded into a distinctive maltiness with a syrupy smooth edge. I also got some hints of straw and a bourbon-like, slightly orangey sweetness.

On the tongue, it was very savoury, with hints of grain and a definite dryness, followed by a woody finish. DBS noted that it was “less smokey and more charred”, which I agreed with.
Grant’s Sherry Cask

This whisky had a similar sweet edge to the other one, with a woody centre to it. It was also considerably more fruity on the nose, although the fruitness was notably dry, reminding me of red fruits like cranberries or slightly sour cherries. Maybe it was the strong, Edinburgh breeze, but I thought that it was a quite soft nose.

It was silky on the tongue, with a lovely, woody sweetness. I found it to be warmer than the ale cask. The finish was dry, even more so than the previous one; my mouth was drawn in slightly after each sip, making me want to keep drinking it. There wasn’t any smoke, just a dry, woody centre with a pepperiness about the edges and hints of tobacco towards the end.

Upon our return, I discovered that DBS’ parents had a bottle of Grant’s Original and so on a recent trip to the in-laws, I tried this, too, in the name of completion.
Grant’s Original

The nose was light and of sweet, malty grain. With more hints of berries and spice than wood, I thought it was quite autumnal. Soft and inoffensive.

It was very silky over the tongue, with oaky wood nearly immediately appearing at the back of my mouth. After a few seconds, there was a general, woody smokiness and a good amount of warmth. The finish was savoury – almost salty. I thought this would be a good whisky to try in an autumnal toddy, as it had the perfect nose for it, whilst not being overly sweet to taste.

In Conclusion

My favourite of the whiskies was the sherry cask finish, with its dry, fruity nose and woody centre, whilst DBS preferred the ale cask finish. Fortunately, this meant that we both got to finish off our favourites on the walk back down the hill to Edinburgh!

I was impressed by the simple, wood-focused flavours of all of the Grant’s whiskies and liked how dry they were, whilst still remaining smooth on the tongue. I’m sure we will be experimenting with them more over the coming weeks, as I suspect that their full, but straight-forward flavours would make them perfect for a range of toddies.

– Mrs.B.