- Jonathan Winters
Cotswalds Dry Gin Review
Updated: Dec 5, 2020
A gin of all trades
Cotswolds Dry Gin
Made in: Stourton, Shipston-on Stour, England
Method: Maceration, with single shot distillation in a Holstein Copper Pot still.
46% alcohol/92 proof
Botanicals 9 : Juniper, angelica, lavender, coriander, bay leaves, lime zest, grapefruit zest, black peppercorn, cardamom.
Style: Mostly classic with a modern twist
This review is for a bottle from batch 1/2018.
Cotswolds doesn’t throw a lot of backstory at you, it focuses on just making good small batch gin. It’s a twist on the London Dry style, focusing on five classic botanicals Juniper, Angelica, coriander, cardamom, and citrus - then making it more modern with lavender and bay leaf.
They use a truly neutral base spirit - derived from wheat and purchased from Hayman’s (who make their own gin) . Unlike most other distillers they use fresh citrus zest and local lavender.
What they produce is an unfiltered gin, one which turns cloudy with ice and contains a lot more of the essential oils from their botanicals The gin is heavy on the botanicals - Cotswolds uses what they say is 10 times more by weight of botanicals than typical gin.
This is a gin that looshes - which means it is a spirit that becomes cloudy and opalescent when mixed with cold water or ice (It also fluoresces under a blacklight). This type of gin used to be considered a lower end gin - and the looshing used to be considered a defect. But as gin has evolved plenty of great gins have shown this quality, including Dillon’s and Fords (link to both)
This is a lovely sipping gin, while the flavor profile in its base is very classic, the additional botanicals mellow the gin quite well. There is not a lot of heat, just good flavor.
Juniper is the predominant scent of the Cotswolds, with hints of citrus and anise making up the bulk of the perfume here. There are some essences of spice too, the faintest whiffs of bay and black pepper. There isn’t a lot of floral here despite the lavender.
The flavors are what you expect from a classic London Dry flavor profile - big juniper with a strong pine resin flavor, spice from the coriander and cardamom,and citrus with menthol and hints of anise - that is all on the upfront part of the gin. Big and bold, but behind that there is more, you can taste the extra bite of the pepper, the gentle tang of bay which lingers on the balate and smoothness that comes from the floral nature of the lavender. These aren’t big flavors but flavors that work behind the scenes adding depth and complexity to the gin.
Mouthfeel is thick and oily, and cool, with a slightly dry finish.
This is a natural mixing gin - the flavors are almost classic, but with a slight twist - but there is enough classic here that you could use it pretty much anywhere you’d use a gin with a classic London dry flavor profile (Note: not a London dry gin, but a london dry profile - with Juniper in the center with coriander, citrus, angelica, providing the main backup).
With it’s almost classic taste, and all the extra botanical oils in the mix I expected this would make a great martini - and I was right. This is a very good take on the classic martini, especially with a very dry version (I lightly swirled the glass with a few drops of Carpano Dry, before emptying it and adding the gin). You can still get a bit of the tang of the bay leaves, and a hint of the lavender in each sip. I suspect the wetter the martini the less you’d taste the lavender here.
After how this meshed in a Martini, I went straight to an indian style tonic with this one. Here I have to say I felt I lost many of the complexer layers except for the bay which was clearly perceptible in the drink, and maybe just a hint of the smoothness of the lavender. That said it was very solid and exactly what you’d expect in a London dry flavor profile, gin and tonic.
With this gin’s flavor profile I opted to go with a classic, or mostly classic cocktail, the Negroni, (but a perfect negroni) try it with. In this I erred, while it was fine I didn’t really love it - and I couldn’t taste anything special about the gin. So try, try again - I went to something a bit lighter to see if I could find the gin on it. The answer was a Southside cocktail. In this light, mojito like cocktail, the Cotswold could clearly be tasted and both the bay and lavender added a bit of an almost coconut taste to it. It was very pleasant.
As far as gin goes, this one isn’t crazy unique, but it’s a gin which is versatile and a workhorse. It fails to excel at any specific thing, but it’s good almost any way you use it. It's good for sipping, and solid in much any cocktail I threw at it.
I can’t call it elite, but it’s a good middle of the road gin, a good notch or two above the standard mass produced gins.
Rating (Sipping): 87 - A nice more or less classic gin with bay and lavender to mellow it deliciously.
Rating (Mixing) 84 - A very solid mixing gin that offers expected tastes plus a touch more.
Overall rating: 86. A solid gin that does everything as well as you could reasonably expect.
What you need to know about reviews: All my reviews are my honest opinions based upon my own personal tasting. I am NOT a paid reviewer, and no compensation was given, or expected. I may from time to time choose to do a second review and amend my opinion of a product, should I feel like it and find my review criteria has evolved, or that I’ve found it different at a later date. That said, as I’m unlikely to repurchase anything I thought was less than very good to excellent, it would be by chance or at the request of a distiller who thought I rated them very unfairly - BUT even then, whatever you get will always be my honest opinion.