We’re back with another review and tasting notes! This time we’re looking at Cotswolds Dry Gin which, as we reported last week, has just won the London Dry category and the top prize Gin Taste Master Award at the Spirits Business Gin Masters, so what better time to check it out?
Some background first. The Cotswolds Distillery was founded in 2014 in the North Cotswoldian village of Stourton in Warwickshire, very close to the borders of both Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire. Like many of the new wave of modern UK gin producers, the distillery’s main focus is the production of single malt whisky, but the same care and attention is given to the gin production, which takes place in a German Holstein pot still feeding into a separate rectification column.
Cotswolds’ base spirit is a wheat-based 96% Neutral Grain Spirit distilled by Hayman’s. This spirit is lightly diluted, and the base botanicals are added to macerate in the Holstein still for 15 hours. In the morning, the rest of the botanicals – which include bay leaf, locally-sourced lavender and freshly-peeled lime and pink grapefruit zest – are added and redistilled, with only the heart of the spirit retained.
The spirit comes through the still at 83% and is rested for five days before being diluted to 46% and bottled onsite. The strength and the lack of chill-filtration used means that the gin retains oily lipids and congeners, so it turns slightly cloudy when ice and tonic are added.
But enough technical detail, how does it taste?!
Cotswolds Dry Gin, 46%, £34.95 from the distillery website (including free Copa glass at the moment)
Nose: Sweet, citrussy attack initially, then peppery spice emerges on a well-proportioned bed of juniper. Turns more floral and herby – the local lavender and the cardamom are evident now, then a brief leafiness before the citrus reasserts itself along with some sappy, pine notes.
Palate: Medium-full, with a pleasingly soft but spicy mouthfeel. Strong, sappy pine initially, then juniper and lavender – much more pronounced in the early stages here than on the nose – then a brief woodiness, pepper, wet earth, and now the grapefruit and cardamom come through very strongly. A very complex, intricate melding of powerful flavours.
Finish: Very long, with deep citrus and floral notes dominating. Fades to a warm, slightly peppery tingle.
G&T: (2:5 ratio, no lime) Sweet and woody, then the grapefruit, lime and lavender take over. Really sings with a splash more tonic and a quarter lime wedge. The higher strength and powerful flavours mean a more liberal amount of tonic can be used without losing character.
Comment: A hugely impressive gin. The remarkable thing here is the immense depth of flavour, achieved by the simple (though expensive) expedients of using up to ten times the amount of botanicals of a normal London Dry Gin and keeping the strength up at 46%. Subtle it aint, but characterful it most certainly is. It’s easy to see why this gin stood out to the judges at the Gin Masters.
Well, Cotswolds Dry Gin will be a tough act to follow, but I’ve got a lot of great gins in the bag to review in the next few months – stay tuned!