Although whisky was once synonymous with Scotland, Ireland and Kentucky, it’s now made all around the world. One of the most exciting, and newest, distilleries is nestled amongst the rolling hills of the Cotswolds countryside producing single malt whiskies with a focus on quality and flavour. Caroline Underhill, our Global Marketing Director, explores how the distillery came into being and its achievements so far.
The Cotswold Distillery’s story began over seven years ago, when Daniel Szor, a native New Yorker and whisky lover, moved to the Cotswolds after working in finance for many years. Keen to spend more time in the picturesque countryside with his family, it dawned on Dan that he could combine his love of whisky with his desire to start a new business. Having found a derelict site near his house, he set about building a distillery and a team to run it, and the doors of the Cotswolds Distillery opened in 2014. The distillery is the first full-scale one of its kind within the Cotswolds, which is itself a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Whisky production is at the heart of the operation. The team uses only the finest materials and ingredients – all of the Cotswolds Distillery’s single malt whiskies are made in small batches using locally grown Cotswold barley which has been floor-malted in nearby Warminster, at Britain’s oldest working maltings. The focus is on traditional craftsmanship – with every aspect of the process managed by hand, from running the stills to regularly checking the casks.
Early on, whisky legend Dr Jim Swan, known in the industry as the ‘Einstein of whisky’, helped the team at the distillery determine all the elements of the whisky-making process – including mashing, fermenting and the choice of yeast, the distilling process and cut points, and finally the creation of the distillery’s wood programme. The first whisky ever released, Cotswolds Single Malt Whisky, is characteristic of the distillery’s signature rich and fruity flavour, thanks largely to the highly active STR (Shaved, Toasted and Re-charred) ex-red wine casks, as well as premium first-fill ex-bourbon barrels from Kentucky, in which the spirit has patiently matured.
This approach to production has been well received, and the Cotswold Distillery has already been recognised on the international stage. Amongst many industry accolades, the distillery’s signature whisky, Cotswolds Single Malt Whisky, has been awarded a gold medal at the World Whiskies Awards 2019 and the International Wine & Spirit Competition 2019, as well as two stars (one of only two whiskies) at the Great Taste Awards 2019.
Keen to reflect and honour the natural beauty of the area which he’s made home, Dan and his team also craft a range of gins, including Wildflower Gins inspired by the grasslands of the Cotswolds. And that touch of ingenuity remains with the distillery’s signature gin, Cotswolds Dry Gin, containing a high volume of botanicals, such as local lavender from nearby Snowshill. When ice or tonic is added, the gin transforms into a pearlescent cloud, resulting in the unique and aptly named Cloudy G&T.
More about the distillery’s origins, processes and spirits is available at www.cotswoldsdistillery.com