Who’s behind The Cotswolds Distillery?

From hedge funds to hedge rows… As a native New Yorker, Founder Dan Szor fell in love with the Cotswolds during his many family weekends spent escaping the stress of London city living. Wishing for a more relaxed rural lifestyle with his wife and young daughter, along with the opportunity to create something tangible, Dan wanted to make a permanent move to enjoy the rolling hills and honey-coloured cottages of the Cotswolds. Harbouring a deep-rooted passion for single malt whisky, Dan also made annual pilgrimages to island of Islay, where he purchased his first cask of whisky from the Bruichladdich Distillery and so caught the distilling bug.

During one of his family weekends in the Cotswolds, Dan woke up to a wonderfully sunny morning spent staring through the window into a neighbouring barley field. Seeing the golden grain blowing beautifully in the breeze, he had a brainwave “I suddenly thought, there’s barley all over the Cotswolds and nobody’s distilling it, let’s be the first!”.

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Where did it all start?

Snapping up an old barn conversion in the beautiful village of Stourton, near Shipston-on-Stour in the heart of the Cotswolds, Dan embarked upon his journey to create world-class artisanal spirits using local top-quality ingredients. As an eco-conscientious individual, Dan made the commitment to ensure that all stages, from the growth of raw ingredients, to the malting, mashing and distilling take place right there in the Cotswolds. They are happy to say that with the barley for their whisky coming from less than 20 miles from them, the malt being hand-made less than 50 miles away and the inclusion of locally sourced botanicals into their Cotswolds Dry Gin, they have kept to that commitment.

The research then began. Dan underwent a stint at Heriot Watt University to sit a dedicated distilling course, he appointed a team of passionate experts, including a brewer, distiller, head distiller (Alex Davies, formerly of Chase Distillery in Herefordshire) consultant master distiller (Harry Cockburn, formerly of Bowmore for a mere 30 years) and a wood ageing expert (Dr Jim Swan), and visited the Forsyths plant in Rothes to investigate the commissioning of their very own bespoke copper batch pot stills. Here Dan worked closely with Richard Forsyth and his expert team to have their state-of-the-art whisky stills crafted and delivered to their new home in the Cotswolds.

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Not content with just whisky, and with a little encouragement from his gin-loving friends, Dan also decided to embark upon a gin-making journey. Meeting with the experts at Arnold Holstein in Germany, he decided upon the build of a tailor-made 500 litre hybrid still. This comprises of an onion head, botanical chamber and column for the production of their gin.

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What sets The Cotswolds Distillery gin apart?

Our Cotswolds Dry Gin has a delectable blend of nine carefully-considered botanicals. The expression of the traditional London dry style comes from the overnight maceration into our pure wheat spirit of juniper, coriander seed and angelica root, which have been left to allow their flavour characteristics to fully infuse. They then add their unique botanical mix of Cotswolds lavender and bay leaf, fresh grapefruit peel, fresh lime peel, black pepper and cardamom seed into our bespoke Holstein still for distillation before finishing with naturally refined Cotswolds water. The result is a classic well-balanced juniper-led gin with crisp citrus and spice.

British Summer Craft Spirits and Cocktail Guide - The Cotswolds Distillery

Tasting Notes

Nose: fresh citrus notes of grapefruit upfront with a hit of earthy coriander backed-up harmoniously by sweet floral notes of juniper. Upon deeper inhalation, soft notes of cracked black pepper become apparent with a hint of minerality and perfumed Cotswolds lavender.

Palate: clean, pine spice from the juniper comes through on entry, closely followed by fresh grapefruit and a hint of coriander seed. A little black pepper spice builds with a touch of dryness from the angelica root before light mineral and eucalyptus notes appear from the bay leaf. The lime works its way in right at the end before the subtle lavender shows itself.

Finish: Clean and balanced. Juniper, citrus and some cooling notes from the bay leaf and cardamom.

This gin is delicious on its own, over ice. It’s robust enough to stand up to tonic and smooth enough to craft the ultimate gin martini.

Serving Suggestions:

Gin Faisán LR

Gin Faisan:

50ml Cotswolds Dry Gin

50ml Fresh pink grapefruit juice

15ml Fresh lime juice

15ml Sugar syrup

Top with cold soda water

Pinch of salt

METHOD

To make the sugar syrup, fill a jug with 100ml warm water and add to this 100g of sugar, stirring until fully dissolved. This recipe only calls for 15ml (which makes one serving) so place the remainder in the fridge to be used at a later date (it will keep for a good few weeks).

To make the Gin Faisán, place the gin, fresh juices and sugar syrup into a cocktail shaker with a good handful of ice and shake until frost appears on the outside. Pour into a tumbler and top with soda. Garnish with a slice of pink grapefruit and a pinch of salt.

Where can I find out more about The Cotswolds Distillery?

Website. Available nationwide at Majestic Wines. Also available at Harvey Nichols, Fortnum and Mason and online at Master of Malt and The Whisky Exchange.