Cotswolds Single Malt Whisky “Inaugural Release” 2014/2017 (46%, OB, First Fill Bourbon Barrels, 4000 bottles)

Every year our team attends the Whisky Show in London, and every year we come across something that surprises us. Usually it is a particular distiller. One time it was the range of Tomatin, and more recently we really liked the stuff of Indian Distiller Paul John. For example, last year, the only bottle I bought was a single cask Paul John. This year we found that the crux of the festival seemed not to be a particular distiller or brand, rather than the high quality of young Whiskies and/or new distilleries. Sure, there was a plethora of amazing old Whiskies on the Gordon & MacPhail stand and there is always nice super-premium stuff at the Diageo stand, but for us this year was about very nice young Whiskies. And guess what, they all came with age statements! Yes, it can be done! Funny enough, also young Whiskies coming from distilleries, people, (including me), tend to ignore. So, this year, I returned home with an 8 year old Tamnavulin, an 8 year old Glen Moray, a 10 year old Glenlivet and finally a 12 year old Tormore. All young, age stated, single casks and all from independent bottlers. Highly affordable as well. Before I forget, equally amazing was the Ailsa Bay and the man behind it. Today we are going to look at another young Whisky. The first release of an English Single Malt Whisky from the Cotswolds.

In my mind when a new distillery opens, it’s the brain child of two blokes who think they can do things better and try to conquer the world. Yes, I’m a romantic. Not true here, the two blokes thing, that is. This Whisky isn’t made in a shed in the Cotswolds. No, the Cotswolds distillery is the brain-child of Daniel Szor. A New York banker from Polish descent. Unfortunately his parents never learned him the language. Believe me, I tried, nope, Cotswolds is definitely not a shed. It’s a full fled distillery with tours and everything and a lot of staff, a lot, so I guess mr. Szor has some big plans, and is here to stay!

Color: Gold.

Nose: Floral, zesty, young and very perfumy. Big aroma. Cinnamon, cinnamon (again), more cinnamon and bread, cereal, sawdust and lots of notes from first fill Bourbon casks. Vanilla pods and Sinaspril pills. So yes, a nice acidic note as well. Insence sticks. No off-notes whatsoever and hardly any trace of new-made spirit. Nice wood, beautiful wood actually. Dry leaves and toasted toffee. Hints of candied yellow fruits in the distance. Spicy like an Indian Malt. Not sure this comes from the wood or are they using indian six-row barley at Cotswolds? The florality reminds me of Indian Whisky as well. Very appetizing. Well balanced and again a very big nose. Wonderful aroma’s coming together nicely. Still young and it already shows a lot of potential, which doesn’t mean this inaugural release isn’t worth it, because it is! Well done team!

Taste: On entry a wee bit thinner than expected and after that, an elegant and mouth coating young Malt emerges. Slightly sweet, slightly bitter, with toffee and caramel notes, and a lot of aromas coming from the first fill Bourbon casks. Making the body “bigger” than the entry was. Not as sweet as the nose promised. Already some nice yellow fruits though, as well as a hint of latex paint and machine oil? Wow. A desert in itself. Sweetish. Vanilla with a spicy note added to it. Just like the nose, quite Indian in style. Very appetizing stuff. The wood is almost virgin now, with a sharp spicy edge to it. Oats and crackers. Cigarette ash and toasted oak mixed with light fruity acidity. Again, lots of balance for such a young malt from a new distillery. Nice aftertaste.

Amazing inaugural release of Cotswolds. I’m told this is three years old plus one day, (some mentioned four days, but who is counting days in Whisky?). Amazing Indian style nose reminding me of some Paul John releases but foremost of this Amrut.

As mentioned in the introduction. Distilleries these days, are able to put out some very nice young Whiskies, even the ugly ducklings of yesteryear, you know, those anonimous distilleries distilling for blends only, like the aforementioned Tamnavulin. Amazing stuff, but on the other hand, we the consumer, we also had some time, by way of NAS-Whiskies, to get used to the taste of younger Whiskies. Maybe we just needed some time to adjust, and accept the times they are a-changing? Really old Whiskies these days cost the same amount of money as a new car, and something a bit younger still costs about the same as a nice vacation. So yes, we did get used to the taste of younger Whiskies, but nevertheless, there is much good stuff going around, just different from the stuff we bought 10 or 20 years ago…

Points: 84

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The English Whisky Co. 3yo 2007/2010 “Chapter 6” (46%, OB, American Standard Barrel #001-011)

Next stop is in Roudham, Norfolk, UK. Although close to the source, from a Scottish perspective, this is a World Whisky. The English Whisky Co. is the brand name and the distillery is called St. George’s Distillery. Founded by James and Andrew Nelstrop, its location was chosen because of clean and pure water, and well Barley and Norfolk, need I say more? Initially they wanted to build a micro distillery, but customs and excise wouldn’t have it, they wanted a big distillery, otherwise they wouldn’t bother giving off a licence. In december 2006, distilling commenced under the supervision of Laphroaigs one and only Iain Henderson. 29 barrels were filled. This particular Whisky was distilled two months after opening by Iain, aged for three years so it is barely legal…

The English Whisky Co. 3yo 20072010 Chapter 6 (46%, OB, First Fill American Bourbon Casks #001-011)Color: Light gold.

Nose: Extremely malty, and noses like new make spirit. White bread used for sandwiches dumped in water. I guess the eleven casks used weren’t very active. Grassy, lemongrass and sugar. Hay and all sorts of grass plants. Citrussy. It will remain the new make spirit it essentially is. Malt, bread and Vodka. That’s it. Sure, noses like this are part of the Whisky industry as a whole, so you “gotta love it”. But I don’t like it when I buy a bottle of a finished product. I’m not nosing this and enjoying myself, to be honest.

Taste: Soft and sweet. At least the taste shows some potential. Well rounded, and just the right amount of sweetness. Taste wise no off notes whatsoever, just plain young and massively un-complex. Enjoyable? Very! Toffee and vanilla. light and sunny. You get my drift.

Nosing this stuff I really asked myself why would anyone bottle this when it is clearly not ready. This is why they came up with the rule that Whisky must be three years old. Well, if you make stuff like this in a cold climate with inactive casks (first fill, really?) and it reaches three years of age, then it hardly meets requirement doesn’t it. Tasting it is a different story completely. Good potential, and I’ll be watching this Whisky grow. I hope they will succeed. Good luck!

Points: 75

Shepherd Neame Spitfire (4.5%, 500 ml)

And now for a completely different beer. This time something from the oldest brewer in Britain. Sheperd Neame from Faversham, Kent founded in 1698. Spitfire is a cask conditioned bitter that came onto the market in 1990 to commemorate the Battle of Britain. This bottle of britain is named for the famous fighter aircraft from the second world war. The beer also has a different kind of advertising than we are used to of which I only give you a few, but there’s a lot more. Let’s move on to the beer, shall we?

Color: Copper, Amber, not a lot of foam.

Nose: Fresh, it almost has no scent at first, certainly malt but after that we’re in the twilight zone. Hard to tell what else there is.

Taste: Thin (probably the low ABV). Fresh, summery ánd bitter. This bitterness once tasted, never leaves and dominates even the finish. The body is light, hoppy and malty. The middle and the finish make this less summery, although I guess this will do well as a thirst quencher on a terrace looking at people passing by.

In the end I found this to be very easy, not to say very simple. For me even though it isn’t very bitter, still the bitterness dominates the light palate. Maybe that’s why they call this a bitter.

Points: 68