Review: Cotswolds Single Malt Whiskey

Cotswolds is an area in southern England, and while one might think this is gin country, a distillery has popped up (in 2014) that is also producing single malt whisky. Says the distillery, “The first whisky ever distilled in the Cotswolds, it uses 100% locally grown, floor-malted barley and has been aged in first-fill ex-Bourbon barrels and reconditioned red wine casks (premium first-fill Kentucky ex-bourbon 200-litre barrels and reconditioned American Oak 225-litre red wine casks that have been shaved, toasted and recharred). We are one of a very small number of British whisky-makers to use 100% floor-malted barley. This comes to us from Britain’s oldest working maltings, in nearby Warminster. It is unpeated.”

We’ve previously reviewed Cotswolds Gin, a fine example of the London Dry style. Now let’s see what the same blokes can do with English whiskey.

While there’s no age statement here, Cotswolds immediately showcases both youth and power on the nose, with a rather green, almost hoppy element leading the way to hints of coal dust, hemp rope, burnt bitter orange peel, and some cloves. The palate takes this very savory beginning and opens up some new doors, introducing flavors of orange blossoms, an allspice note, and dark chocolate bubbling up on the back end. While it’s youthful and quite grainy at times, there’s an imposing power to the whiskey that lets it showcase an impressive range of flavor despite being such a young spirit. The finish is a bit burly, but it’s also cleaner than you’d expect, a clear sign that Cotswolds Single Malt could, in time, grow into something special.

92 proof. Reviewed: Batch 2/2017.

B / $55 /

Review: The English Whisky Co. Classic and Peated Single Malts

The English Whisky Co Classic BottleSingle malt whisky: It’s not just for Scotland any more. The English Whisky Company makes Scotch-style whisky in Norfolk County in good old England. And why not? Located further south, the company says it’s warmer and drier there, which means these single malts mature more quickly.

The English Whisky Co. — aka St. George’s Distillery, no relation to California’s St. George Spirits — is the first English distillery to sell its products publicly in 100 years. In addition to these “Classic” bottlings, you might encounter various “Chapters,” special whisky releases with different finishes or other aging protocols. Those might be ones to snap up, but these new, more basic bottlings are likely to be the ones you encounter.

Both are 92 proof. Thoughts follow.

The English Whisky Co. Classic Single Malt Whisky – A young whisky, lots of grain here. Some citrus, almonds, and toasted marshmallow. The finish brings out a marine element, quite salty and drying, with a substantial grain influence. More grain, fresh cut barley, hits you again on the back end. Overall: A very pleasant, but modest and simple, little whisky. B- / $NA

The English Whisky Co. Peated Single Malt Whisky – A peated version of the above. This actually works quite well. The peat is very mild and restrained, a lightly salty/briny experience with a dusting of coal embers behind it. The finish is simple and a bit green, those nutty elements of the Classic bottling coming more to the forefront. On the whole, however, fans of more modestly peated whisky will find plenty to like here. B / $NA