The Cotswolds Distillery was born from a dream to produce delicious spirits in one of the most beautiful regions in the world. The distillery’s journey dates back to 2014 when its visionary founder, whisky enthusiast Daniel Szor, made a life-changing choice. Szor, a native New Yorker with a thriving career in London’s financial district, yearned for a change that would allow him to savour the idyllic beauty of the Cotswolds alongside his family.
It eventually dawned on him that he could combine his love of whisky with his desire to start a new business. As he gazed upon the golden barley fields surrounding his home in the Cotswolds, he had an epiphany: “There’s barley all over the Cotswolds, and nobody’s distilling it; let’s be the first!”
Having found a derelict site near his house, he set about building a distillery and a team to run it, and in July 2014, lo and behold, Cotswolds Distillery was born.
From the beginning, Szor was determined to employ the finest equipment, traditional methods, and the highest quality raw materials. Guided by the expertise of industry luminaries such as Harry Cockburn, the former Distillery Manager at Bowmore, and Dr Jim Swan, fondly known as ‘the Einstein of whisky’, the distillery has been enriched by their profound knowledge of the science behind distillation and maturation.
In his pursuit of crafting exceptional spirits, Szor embarked on an exploration of craft distillation. He discovered that while craft distilling was gaining momentum in the US, it had yet to fully take root in the UK. Szor made the rounds, visiting various craft whisky distilleries in the US, but was left unsatisfied: “Although I loved the story, and I loved the feel of the place,” he says, “I didn’t particularly like the whisky.”
In response to this revelation, Szor set forth two clear objectives: “To create whisky and products that I genuinely enjoy and want to drink, and to do it in a distillery I would really like to visit.” Szor asserts, “I believe we’ve succeeded in both of these aspects. I really do love our products.” In fact, out of 200 hundred bottles that make up Szor’s whisky collection, “there is only one that sits on the kitchen table, usually half empty - and that’s our signature three-year-old single malt!” Szor says.
When it comes to taste, quality and flavour are constantly at the forefront of the distillery’s mind. This was always part of Szor’s vision and continues to be one of the distillery’s core values. Whether it’s running the whisky fermentation for longer than the standard duration or using ten times the average amount of botanicals, the aim is to produce delicious spirits to the best ability, no matter the cost.
Characterising their whisky range as an amalgamation of “intense flavours that are also well-balanced,” Szor paints a vivid picture of enjoying a dram: “It’s like putting on a cardigan or jumper and getting cosy.” He continues, “There’s a new generation of whisky drinker that’s not looking for their dad’s whisky – you know, that whole tweed jacket with a cigar and a crystal glass by the fireplace thing. Today’s whisky drinker is very different. First of all, it’s not just for men; we have a different image of whisky.”
Szor offers a different perspective on how to enjoy whisky: “For us, it’s more outdoor than indoor, it’s more firepit than fireplace, and it’s more jeans and jumpers than tweed jackets.”
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To explore Cotswolds Distillery’s award-winning single malt whiskies, head to Tomoka Fine & Rare, Unit 2-3, The Royal Exchange, EC3V 3LL. For more information, see tfandr.com