Cotswolds Signature Single Malt
This is not my first dalliance with English whisky but certainly it’s the first time I’ve tried anything from the Cotswolds Distillery having heard mainly positive things.
Cotswold Distillery opened in July 2014 and immediately got to work distilling both gin and whisky. The distillery originally had two stills for whisky production, a 2,400 litre wash still and a 1,600 litre spirit still which allowed for an output of around 125,000 litres of alcohol per year plus a Holstein still for gin production. However in 2022 a brand new dedicated whisky distillery was announced that would increase production to 500,000 litres of alcohol per year.
Production wise Cotswolds Distillery say they will only use local barley from the Cotswolds region. This barley is floor malted at Warminster maltings. Fermentation is over 90 hours and uses two strains of yeast, Anchor and Fermentis, to achieve an estery, fruity wash which is then double distilled.
At present the whisky range comprises of the 'Classics Collection', 'Cask Expressions Collection' and the 'Single Casks Collection'. The Signature and Reserve make up the 'Classics Collection' with the Reserve being more 1st fill bourbon cask dominant and at a slightly higher abv of 50%.
The 'Cask Expressions Collection' comprises of the Bourbon Cask, Sherry Cask and Peated Cask.....all quite self explanatory. The fourth expression in this collection is the Founder's Reserve which is exclusively matured in STR (Shaved, Toasted and Re-charred) ex-red wine barriques. These are all cask strength expressions retailing for around £70 and are natural colour and non-chill filtered.
Currently the only expression in the 'Single Cask Collection' is a oloroso sherry cask matured whisky, with the cask filled in May 2018 and bottled at 54.2% abv and retails for £99.95.
So even from a relatively young distillery there is plenty of choice on offer. I have went for the 'entry' level malt, the Signature release to review.
I bought my bottle of Signature in Sainsburys on offer for £30 and it’s the 2017 Odyssey Barley release. The barley all having come from the Akeman Street Farm. This release had an outturn of 6200 bottles that are natural colour, non chill filtered and released at 46%. The whisky is a vatting of 30% first fill bourbon and 70% STR red wine hogsheads. All good stuff so far.
Nose: Creamy butterscotch and ripe red apples are the initial hit. Then we get malt, vanilla, orange peel and some red berries too. Pepper and freshly grated ginger come through. There’s a floral note here alongside wood resin and oak shavings.
Palate: This has a really nice texture in the mouth and it arrives with a big hit of spice - clove, nutmeg, cinnamon and pepper. A little chilli heat too. Dark chocolate and cherry alongside ripe red apples and honey with a little herbal tincture too.
Finish: Short with the clove and toasted oak being dominant.
Overall: You know for a young whisky this is pretty good. It’s definitely well constructed and presented. At the offer price of £30 I'd buy another bottle but would maybe reconsider at the £35 to £40 mark. It would be interesting to see how this would develop over a few more years maturation with the bourbon to red wine casks switched from 30/70 to 70/30. At present the STR casks definitely dominate and I guess that is by design to get some character in there at a young age but I do feel it’s a little forced. It kind of makes me think of this as ‘light rye’ rather than a single malt. Still it’s perfectly sippable and easily sessionable with friends and something that I certainly wouldn't feel shy about sharing with fellow enthusiasts. Let’s keep an eye on how things progress shall we?
Score: 5 out of 10
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