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New English whisky distillery starts production

The new Cotswolds Distillery, set in a five acres of English countryside and housed in a Cotswolds stone building, officially opened last week.

The first limited edition batch of 5,000 bottles of Organic Odyssey single malt whisky is now available for reservation ahead of its release in 2017.

Production of a Cotswolds Dry Gin has also begun with the distillation of a single botanical library, which is currently being used for recipe development before full time production begins in September.

The distillery took delivery last month of a 2,400 litre wash still, 1,600 litre spirit still, 500 litre Holstein still and everything else needed in the creation of spirits – fermentation vessels, the mash tun, mill and blending room equipment.

Owner Daniel Szor is creating the first Cotswolds single malt whisky from local, organically grown Odyssey barley. Sourced from a farm on the Bradwell Grove Estate (home to the Cotswolds Wildlife Park) owned by Reggie Heyworth, whose family have been farming the 3,000 acre estate for nearly 100 years, Dan will then be sending the Organic Odyssey barley to Warminster Maltings, the oldest working maltings in the UK, where the grain will be ploughed by hand on traditional malt floors.

Dan comments: “There is such an abundance of great local produce in the Cotswolds, barley in particular has thrived here for years and is used in maltings across the globe. I was looking out of my window one day and saw a field of barley blowing in the breeze-it was beautiful and totally inspired me to create the first Cotswolds single-malt whisky.”

The team at the Cotswolds Distillery, led by head distiller Alex Davies, formerly of Chase Distillery, will also be creating fine gins, including a Cotswold dry Gin, with new product development on these lines having started this month.

The team have completed a first mini distillation, creating a single-botanical juniper distillate; the first in a line of single-botanical distillates for the distillery’s unique distillate library. “The library of 151 (and growing) single-botanical distillates will shows us exactly how each botanical behaves under distillation and ultimately how it will taste,” says Alex. “The aim is to use this flavour profiling in deducing the final recipes for our gins. Botanicals under distillation react very differently to when in their raw state; flavours change when heated, intensities vary and certain properties of each botanical are heightened or diminished. This library illuminates these distillation effects, before incorporation into any final recipes, helping to apportion each flavour and ultimately create a perfectly balanced gin.”

With the help of a local botanist, the team at The Cotswolds Distillery are in search of rarely used Cotswolds flora (such as red hemp nettle; a member of the mint family, pennycress, and quince seeds) to create new and interesting single-botanical distillates. These will then be used to evaluate distillation effects, helping to determine the flavour outcome on the final Cotswold gin recipes.

Alex comments: “We didn't want to create just another gin on the market and so, with our focus on wild, locally-sourced, unique Cotswolds botanicals, we are creating a gin with a purpose. A gin that represents the Cotswolds, a place of true beauty and food heritage.”

The team is using the library as an educational tool, helping to explain the nature of distilling; how it works and why. It will be used on site to provide a real, hands-on sensory and tasting tool to enable visitors to identify individual flavours, characteristics and aromas that make up their Cotswolds Gins.

Producing ultra-premium, small batch Cotswolds single malt whisky, in addition to Cotswolds dry gin, an innovative English rye whisky and a range of high quality artisanal liqueurs, The Cotswolds Distillery says it is set to create world-class products with a true sense of provenance. 

28 July 2014 - Felicity Murray The Drinks Report, editor