Monday, 17 November 2014

Cotswolds Distillery Revisited & Cotswolds Dry Gin

There's a cloud in the Cotswolds… This cloud is not the grey and precipitous kind that you might expect from this time of year - nope - it's full of juniper, coriander and angelica root (amongst others), and, strangely, you'll find this one in a glass!

You guessed it; I'm talking gin. But why is it cloudy? We’ll get to that later.

Do you remember way back in July, when I attended the launch of Cotswolds Distillery? Well at that point, everything was set in place, but no production had started. Now, just a few months later, steam bellows out from the distillery; the stills are in full swing, barrels have been filled with soon-to-be whisky, botanical concoctions have been tried and tested, and gorgeous bottles of Cotswolds Dry Gin have been released. Phew - these guys have really been working hard!

Earlier this month I revisited the site to see it in all its glory, and sampled their perfected mother's ruin recipe, obviously. You can do the same too, a tour and tasting is just £10pp, or its £6 for the tour alone; the first option is clearly the best one.

Visitors arrive through the shop where there’s merchandise aplenty; it’s all very swanky, and I’ve certainly got my eyes on some gorgeous Glencairn Copita Glasses (£6.95), or the Black Leather Hunter’s Flask (£44.95). But pull up a pew, it’s video time, and luckily for you, you can view it right here too (see the end of the article). Watch as the story of Cotswolds Distillery unfolds before being whisked off for a tour to see where the magic happens.

I needn’t go into all the details – you should go yourselves - but it’s great to see it up and running, and thriving in its booze making activities. Taste some of the organic barley from Warminster Maltings, dive your nose into the fermentation tanks, feel the heat from the pink tinged copper stills, and even try some of their new make! Bourbon and red wine casks were lined up on my visit (I even spotted the branding being stencilled on by hand!), and in the past week I’ve read that some 500 litre sherry butts had arrived all the way from Spain. The tour ends with a gin tasting in their cosy lounge/bar area, with views over the neighbouring sheep filled fields. Perfect.

It’s really exciting times at Cotswolds Distillery, not just because they’re right on schedule for their 2017 bottling, or the fact that they’ve produced a triumphant gin (seriously – Difford’s Guide have given it the big thumbs up); but they have the drive for experimentation and innovation, and are eager to get the ball rolling on other ideas hidden up their sleeves.

So, gin chat: Cotswolds Dry Gin has a delectable blend of nine carefully-considered botanicals. Remember their single botanical distillate library at the launch? Well, they used that to refine their recipe, and even did some blind tastings to confirm their choice. It’s a traditional London dry style, which comes from the maceration of their pure wheat spirit with juniper, coriander and angelica root. 24 hours later, a unique botanical mix - Cotswolds lavender, bay leaf, grapefruit, lime, black pepper and cardamom seed – are added into the carter head still for distillation before finishing with Cotswolds water.

The result? A crisp juniper-led gin, with well-balanced citrus and spice, and a subtle floral lavender touch. (Fear not, the lavender in no way resembles the kind of soap you’d find at your grandma’s house!) Though crystal clear upon initial pouring, add a little ice or water and watch the cloud form.

The Distillery posted about their cloudy gin last week, explaining why this occurs. Basically, because their gin is distilled incredibly slowly over two stages, it has an exceptionally high botanical content (allowing them to achieve the luscious mouth feel, even at 46% ABV, coupled with the big nose and full flavour). In turn, this means that there are large levels of essential oils in the gin; at that percentage and at room temperature, these oils remain dissolved in the alcohol, but when chilled or diluted, the oils separate causing cloudiness.

Chill-filtration would be a way to resolve this, but by doing so they believe they’d be removing the flavour, and why would you want to do that?! Hugo covered chill-filtration back in July; you can read his argument on it here.

If you’re not visiting the Cotswolds any time soon, you can purchase a bottle of Cotswolds Dry Gin via their website for £34.95, though if you’ve got a list of booze to buy for Christmas, you can get it from Master of Malt for the same price too. In which case, I suggest you don your finest tweed at home, grab a glass, then sit back and relax with your "Cotswolds Cloudy G&T".


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