Deja vu? You bet. We encountered Cotswolds Single Malt — part of the tiny English whisky industry — only last year, and now the distillery is out with a new release of the same expression. Why are we reviewing this again? The bottles may look almost identical but the barley used in this spirit is from a different farm than the 2018 release (this one from Akeman Street Farm). Turns out every Release of Cotswolds — 3050 bottles with this outturn — will be made with barley from a different farm in this region of England, and the releases will be aged in “specific casks from rum to sauternes to calvados to sherry butts.” Cotswolds says it won’t ever use a finishing barrel.
With that out of the way, let’s dig in.
Different farm or no, this whisky feels quite familiar. Though my tasting notes are quite a bit different from 2018’s release, the overall impact is ultimately one that leans heavily on its juvenile nature. The nose is youthful with plenty of green cereal notes, plus notes of tobacco, cedar box, and lots of leather. I get hints of green olive here and there, which are intriguing additions to the mix. The palate is equally young and rustic, with lots of savory barrel influence that sticks closely to notes of mushroom and malt. Hints of mild honey syrup offer some sweetness, but the granary notes linger on the back end for some time. The finish is surprisingly more cohesive than what’s come before, offering hints of coconut and butter cookies, though plenty of fresh-milled grain notes linger for minutes.
My ultimate impression is one of a whisky that’s closer to an Irish single malt than anything from Scotland — though whether that’s a plus or a minus is up to the reader.
92 proof. Reviewed: “2014 Odyssey Barley,” Batch 5/2018.