Worlds collide (or should that be barrels?) as David T Smith gives us the low-down on Cotswolds' Double-Barrel Gin.
The Cotswolds Distillery, located in the picturesque Shipston-on-Stour, was founded by Daniel Szor in 2012 and they released their first gin in 2014. Their flagship Cotswolds Dry Gin is a botanically intense gin whose recipe includes: juniper berries, coriander seed, angelica root, cardamom, lime, grapefruit, black pepper, lavender and bay leaf.
In addition, the distillery has released a series of limited editions, some only available directly from the distillery shop. These include: Hedgerow Gin, Baharat Gin, Chamomile and Hop Gin, and Countess Grey Gin.
In 2016, they also released 1616, a gin that harked back to the time of Shakespeare. It had a botanical mix including juniper, cassia, nutmeg and orange peel, included some of their unaged single malt spirit, and was aged in ex red-wine casks.
Since their return to the market in 2007, barrel-aged gins have slowly and steadily been growing in popularity bit by bit. Many relied on the tried-and-tested method of ex-bourbon cask aging for 3-6 months, which adds a pleasant, mellow sweetness to the spirit. A number of great products are made like this, but it can sometimes leave the more adventurous gin drinker wanting more.
To make Cotswolds Double-Barrelled Gin, the distillery age two batches of Cotswolds Dry Gin: the first in ex-red wine casks and the second in ex-bourbon casks. The two are then blended together. As well as providing additional depth and complexity to the gin, this method is also a nod to how Cotswolds makes its Single Malt Whisky, which is made using spirits aged in these two types of casks.
A rare insight into the Cotswolds Distillery’s secret research laboratory, where all sorts of marvelous creations are experimented with. On the back wall, you can spot the Cotswolds botanical library, featuring single distillates of a wide range of interesting flora.
In the front and centre of scene are distiller, Nickolas Franchino, and Dan Szor, who have together created an unholy hybrid of a barrel - a cask-fusion of red wine and ex-bourbon staves. They laugh maniacally as they challenge the forces of nature and defiant flashes of lightning bring their creation - a modern prometheus - to “life”.
Nose: Fruity, woody, and resinous. Intriguing, with a great ability to draw you into the glass.
Taste: Zesty and spiced woody notes - rather vivacious! Rich fruity notes of plum and grape, with cinnamon sugar towards the end.
Finish: Long and lingering; a lovely balance of juniper and black pepper.
In the words of the distillers...
1) Can you describe the inspiration / development process behind this gin?
We make whisky and we make gin, so it was logical for us to start experimenting with barrel-aging our gin. The two main casks used to age our whisky are 1st fill ex-bourbon barrels from Kentucky and ex-red wine barriques from Portugal. The two of them go extremely well together when blending whisky, so we thought: why not try it with our gin? We aged our Cotswolds Dry Gin for 3 months in both barrels and then blended them together. The honey and vanilla notes of the ex-bourbon cask are complemented by the fruity notes of the ex-red wine barrel and presto! Double-barrel gin was born. The name seemed perfect coming from the Cotswolds, with its many double-barrelled residents…
2) What makes this gin different from the rest of your range?
Our flagship Cotswolds Dry Gin is unaged, and our only barrel-aged gin – 1616 – is a whisky-based gin akin to a Dutch Genever. This is the only available barrel-aged expression of our Dry Gin, and we think it’s come out rather nicely!
3) Do you have any suggested serves / cocktail recipes for the gin?
Our experience with our own 1616 barrel-aged gin has taught us that the botanical notes and deep woodiness work really well in a Mule cocktail. We’d therefore suggest using our Double-Barrelled Gin as the base for a Cotswolds Mule, as per below:
50ml Double-Barrelled Aged Gin
15ml King's Ginger Liqueur
15ml lime juice
8ml triple sec
Top up with ginger ale or ginger beer
Place the first 4 ingredients into an ice filled shaker, shake and strain into ice filled copper mug & top up with Ginger Ale – stir & serve. Embelish with mint, lime & ginger.