Focus 50: Trip 3, Cotswolds Distillery (England)
Dan Szor made the ultimate “hedge funds to hedgerows” transition in 2014. A born-and-bred New Yorker who had spent 30 years as a currency trader in New York, Paris and London, Dan stumbled across an abandoned plot of land close to his Cotswolds home. Inspired to combine two of his great loves – the Cotswolds and whisky – Dan left behind the world of finance for one of England’s most enchanting Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Although Dan’s impetus to establish the distillery came from his love for whisky, it was the Dry Gin that first put Cotswolds on the map. The distinctive gin uses local lavender from nearby Snowshill and freshly peeled citrus fruits. The unusually high volume of botanicals results in an ethereal pearlescent G&T once the gin is mixed with either ice or tonic.
Local sourcing and that quirky Cotswolds twist are distinctive to the whole range, which ballooned during lockdown to incorporate a whole host of experimental and limited release bottlings. All whiskies use locally sourced barley; you can trace the precise farm the barley was sourced from on the label of each bottle. All barley is malted at Warminster, Britain’s oldest working maltings, before it is milled and mashed on site at their distillery.
Today, the distillery is also home to a cute café with an outdoor area. Locals pop in for a coffee and catch up, while visitors from further afield like this team of Enotrians go on tours of the distillery and raid the gift shop. It’s a top notch break from city life, and even a brief afternoon spent there makes it abundantly clear what tempted Dan to make the leap to this idyllic life.
Brayden Benedict – Senior Customer Service Executive
"My favourite part of the trip to the Cotswolds Distillery was seeing the comparison between gin stills versus the whisky ones, and all the stages in the process to make whisky. As I hadn’t been to a spirit distillery before, I found being up close to the drums really quite exciting, especially the open whisky ones. I wasn’t aware that gin could be created in such a short space of time, so seeing the size difference between the two gin stills and knowing how often the batches are made gave me a better understanding of the production and both a clearer understanding and appreciation of the process."
Stefanie Metcalf – Supply Planner
"Our trip to Cotswolds Distillery was not your typical visit to the English countryside. The landscape of rolling hills not only offered beautiful scenery, but as we later learnt, provides the barley used to make the distillery’s range of whiskeys. As part of the visitor experience we were invited to taste a flight of six exceptional whiskeys, each with their own unique aromas and flavours. Our tasting notes ranged from rich, floral, smoky and spicy to vanilla, butterscotch, treacle and many more. The stories behind each bottle show that through balancing traditional techniques and innovative thinking, Cotswolds Distillery are leading the way in the small but evolving English whiskey scene."
Marissa Loh – Junior Spirits Brand Manager
"Driving along the winding road leading up to the distillery sets the perfect tone. Proper countryside on our horizon with: hints of leaves returning to trees, sunny skies peaking out after the rain, and miles away from the city. What a great office for the day! The Cotswolds Distillery has masterfully captured this true essence in both their products and in their people. The level of care and enthusiasm exudes from everyone greeting us along every step of our visit. It was incredible to see such an alignment of passion and craft. Can’t wait to see where this brand skyrockets to!"
Olivier Ward – Editor of Spirits Beacon
"What a great day to tour around the distillery! So many highlights but what sticks in my mind is that the same truth kept repeating - that people shape so many elements of a craft distillery and the way their products taste. As much as the terroir, the ingredients or time in a cask. The people who make it are the reason it tastes the way it does and for as much as we all love the end product and seeing giant copper stills- it's the humans who turn the ordinary into something special.
That was clear in so many moments in the visitor centre, the still room, the lab, the bottling hall or the duo hosting us through it all."
The team's top 3 drinks
|Peated Cask Single Malt Whisky
|Smoky, creamy, vanilla and spice.
|Sherry Cask Single Malt Whisky
|Rich and packed with ripe fruit
|Reminiscent of Pimm’s but more grown-up, more intense and less sweet