TBWC Cotswolds 3 year 50.4% – Happiness in a glass!

At the London Whisky Show, two things stood out – a most enjoyable start to our explorations at the Cotswolds booth and the fabulous 10th Anniversary celebrations with That Boutique-y Whisky Co.

So what better idea than to combine the two by acquiring That Boutique-y Whisky Co’s Cotswolds’ Batch 1 for our April evening for the Whisky Ladies of Mumbai.

What did we think?

Cotswolds 3 year Batch 1, 50.4% (TBWC, Home Nations Series) 1,785 bottles

  • Nose – Honey, floral, very soft and sweet, some ripe cantaloupe, then a little prickly herbal quality – like fresh mint, mid-summer, cucumber, apricot – pulpy and inviting, and was there the tiniest hint of peat or perhaps smoked almonds? Shifting back and forth between tropical then citrus fruits
  • Palate – Had a surprising spice burst of mixed peppercorns and red chilies to start, then mellowed into Big Red chewing gum with that cinnamon sweetness, and finally settled into a fruity compote with drizzled honey or caramel
  • Finish – With the 1st sip there was a quick burn, but once we calibrated to the cask strength – realized it had a lovely finish with some spice and vanilla bean
  • Water – We didn’t even try – this whisky was perfect exactly “as is”
We absolutely loved this whisky. At only 3 years it was a delight with a wonderful nose, rewarding palate, and satisfying finish. Perfect for mid-summer sipping… what a delicious dram!
We set it aside to try the other whiskies in our That Boutique-y WHisky Company evening, and returned to such a joyful, happy dram – simply fabulous!! And for many, this was the favourite of the evening!
So, what do the folks over at That Boutique-y Whisky Co have to say?

The distillery is the brainchild of Daniel Szor who acquired an estate with two stone buildings and proceeded to convert them into a distillery and visitor centre.

The distillery was set up with guidance from renowned industry legends Harry Cockburn, former Distillery Manager at Bowmore, and Dr Jim Swan, fondly known as ‘the Einstein of whisky’ for his formidable knowledge of the science of distillation and maturation.

The distillery is committed to using only local barley. All the barley will have been grown in the Cotswolds. The distillery uses Britain’s oldest working maltings at Warminster. 100% of the malt they use is traditionally floor-malted.

The malt is milled and mashed at the distillery, and two strains of dried yeast are used for fermentation. Long fermentation of just over 90 hours to allow fruity flavour compounds called esters to form. This was one of Dr Jim Swan’s masterstrokes. It gives the spirit a fantastic fruity complexity.

And here are their official tasting notes for this 1st batch:

  • Nose: Sweet and rich on the nose – there’s caramelized almonds, sweet pineapple and cherries with a hint of vanilla too.
  • Palate: The sweetness continues, but citrusy warmth interjects – there’s lemon, orange and grapefruit.

I purchased this bottle online in Germany from Whic.de for Eur 52 (on sale)  and opened it in Mumbai for a Whisky Ladies‘ session in April 2023 together with:

As for our other Cotswolds whisky-tasting experiences? Check these out:

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London Whisky Show – Cotswolds

Setting the stage for our London Whisky Show was Cotswolds – a perfect start with a newer distillery just a few hours from London… We had previously enjoyed their delightful gin and found our 1st try of their Signature whisky also quite promising.

Don’t expect detailed notes as our approach was to sniff, swish, and spit… gaining impressions and insights from discussions about the whisky rather than an in-depth exploration.

Deb did a marvelous job opening up our Whisky Show experience. Started in 2014, she shared how Cotswold’s founder Dan was driven by his love of both whisky and his new home in the Cotswolds. Using barley from the area, under Jim Swan’s direction, Cotswolds turned to STR (Shaved, Toasted, Re-charred) wine casks to augment the more typical ex-bourbon or ex-sherry casks.

Cotswolds Signature Single Malt 46%

Dubbed as a breakfast dram, it was indeed a lovely way to start our whisky adventures.,,,,

  • Nose – Cherry, caramel
  • Palate – Warm and full, creamy with a hint of tannin, giving a ‘nod’ to the wine cask
  • Finish – Lightly bitter

Deb shared this was a good example of Cotswold character and approach – using STR which they describe as:

highly active STR (Shaved, Toasted and Re-charred) ex-red wine barriques. Blended with whisky matured in premium first-fill ex-Bourbon barrels, this single malt has notes of honey, red fruits and a hint of treacle.

And what would it set you back? It is quite reasonable at approx GBP 40.

One way to understand a spirit’s “base” character is to sample the New Make before it touches wood. This is why it was so interesting to try Cotswolds White Pheasant New Make Spirit 63.5%. What did we think?

  • Notes – Tropical then orchard fruits – Williams Pear, honeyed sweetness or like a drizzle of sugar on porridge
  • Palate – Surprisingly creamy and smooth, something quite comforting, more of the pears combined with sweetened porridge

While we didn’t talk price, I later checked online to discover they sell their new make spirit for approx GBP 40 (currently sold out).

We then moved on to a cask strength…

Cotswolds Founder’s Choice 59.1%

  • Nose – Creamy, berries, dark cherries, a hint of cocoa which came across as surprisingly harmonious
  • Palate – Very “forward” with the wood, intense spice that started to mellow the more time it spent in the glass, joined by a bit of marmalade or citrus
  • Finish – Good, solid, and long, with the wood influence continuing
  • Water – Brought balance and even more sweetness – toffee dessert, the sweet skin of a kumquat

Had the clear intensity of a young cask-strength whisky which is exactly why we added some water to see its effect – would certainly recommend doing this!

What do they have to say?

Part of our Cask Expressions Collection, our cask strength Founder’s Choice Single Malt Whisky is aged exclusively in our founder Dan’s favourite casks: STR (Shaved, Toasted and Re-charred) ex-red wine barriques. These highly active casks were created by our mentor and renowned whisky consultant, the late Dr. Jim Swan, and give a rich and intense maturation to our fruity new make spirit, offering strong notes of toffee, chocolate and red fruits, as well as a beautiful, deep colour.

Retails for GBP 70.

From there, we switched gears to explore the sherry side of maturation… also in batches, Deb shared this edition has both Olorosso and PX influences.

Cotswolds Sherry Cask Single Malt 57.4%

  • Nose – Like the Founder’s Choice, it was also quite wood-forward, then joined by Christmas cake, sticky toffee pudding, coffee
  • Palate – Silky smooth, rolling around the liquid coffee cake with dried fruits followed by a nice spice prickle
  • Finish – Intense, strong, and lingers
  • Water – Opens it up nicely, juicy berries, dark grapes?

We found it an interesting evolution from the Founder’s Choice, with the sherry adding an intense flavour-packed dimension.

What do they have to say?

Our Sherry Cask Single Malt Whisky is a marriage of carefully selected and blended sherry casks and features in our Cask Expressions Collection. Each yearly batch is unique, drawn from the finest American and Spanish oak hogsheads and butts, some of which have been seasoned with dry Oloroso sherry and others with sweet Pedro Ximénez. All have been sherry-aged through their full maturation for a deeper and more flavourful whisky. Full of dried fruits, chocolate and a touch of spice.

Retails GBP 70

Next up in our tasting experience was an offering from the Harvest series. As Deb explained, this keeps changing to reflect the harvest of the year. This 2022 Harvest uses ex-bourbon, STR red wine, with a touch of peat from peated casks.

Cotswolds Harvest Series (2022) 52.5%

  • Nose – Light berries with a hint of smoke
  • Palate – Peppery, like black peppercorns, quite direct, cream, vanilla, and smoke
  • Finish – Light spice with a touch of peat

It made me think – if there was a smoky vanilla ice cream – this would be it! Something to enjoy in late summer, before slipping into fall.

What more do they have to say?

Our Harvest Series is released once a year and celebrates the beautiful landscape of the Cotswolds through the art of painting and whisky blending. For this single malt release, each presentation tube features an original painting by local artist Josephine Trotter which perfectly illustrates the iconic rolling hills of the Cotswolds that surround our rural distillery.

Retails for GBP 100.

Now that we started to shift into light peat, it was time to focus more fully on this side of their range. As Deb shared, they use ex-Peated casks (Laphroaig) rather than peat the whisky itself, to achieve a gentler approach.

Cotswolds Peated Cask 59.6%

  • Nose – Cream followed by tobacco, medicinal
  • Palate – A battle between peat, sweet, and wood
  • Finish – Very dry and bitter with a smoky close

What do they have to say?

Aged for full-term maturation in ex-peated quarter casks, our Peated Cask Single Malt Whisky is part of our Cask Expressions Collection. A delightful and moreish cask strength single malt with subtle hints of peat smoke on the palate which complement the vanilla notes from the oak and the fruitiness of our single malt spirit. Think ‘smoky vanilla ice cream’, as our distillers like to describe it!

Can I just say, I did a double-take! I swear I’d never read their notes nor did Deb speak of ‘smoky vanilla ice cream‘…. and yet there it was! This just goes to show – this really is the impression left by both this particular Harvest and their Peated expression!

Retails for GBP 70.

We concluded Cotswolds was a rather civilized start to our day of explorations… which went on to sample some 50+ whiskies over the course of the next few hours… wow!

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