Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Review / Cotswolds 'Hearts & Crafts' Rum Cask

This new whisky is the latest addition to the Hearts & Crafts Collection from the English distillery of Cotswolds. The series of limited edition whiskies is inspired by the work of designer and craftsman William Morris, who lived in the Cotswolds at Kelmscott Manor. The new release has seen the spirit made from 100% Cotswolds barley, which was traditionally floor malted in nearby Warminster, and then matured in rejuvenated French oak ex-red wine casks that were seasoned with Caribbean rum. All bottles are presented in a William Morris design tube. The exact number of bottles was not revealed in the press release.

The Cotswolds distillery is located in the village of Stourton and was founded in 2014 by Daniel Szor. The company ethos is to only use barley grown on Cotswold farms and filtered water from the village supply. This barley is then malted on a traditional malt floor at the local maltsters in nearby Warminster. Whisky and gin are produced, along with a range of liqueurs. The distillery run tours daily and also have a shop, cafe and tasting room on site. 
"I have always loved a good sipping rum, but often feel let down by 'rum-finished' single malts. This wonderful new Hearts & Crafts bottling really delivers. Our focus on full-term maturation, rather than finishing, making this whisky both finely balanced and immensely satisfying." 
Daniel Szor.   
The Cotswolds Hearts & Crafts Rum Cask Matured single malt is bottled at 55.6% ABV and is both non chill-filtered and of natural colour. It is exclusive to the Cotswold distillery's shops, visitor centre and website. A bottle will cost £74.95.

Our tasting notes

The colour is vibrant gold and the nose is bright and expressive. Aromas of candied lemon and lime lead the way, along with a hint of dried tropical fruit. Underneath are further aromas of green apple, golden syrup and peppery spices. Hints of pear, butterscotch and agave sit in the background.

The brightness continues on the palate. There is a youthful peppery quality but this mellows to reveal crisp green apple and pear notes. With time these tend more towards peardrop boiled sweets. This initial fruitiness is accentuated by a vibrant sweetness. This is a mix of honey, golden syrup and some white chocolate. The candied lemon and lime notes from the nose are never far away. The tropical fruit notes also evolve and become more dominant than before. Hints of marzipan and freshly sawn oak develop late on. 

A splash of water softens this whisky down well. The lemon, lime and tropical characteristics leap out even more as the peppery heat is deadened. A hint of bitter grapefruit peel comes through nicely too.

The finish is of decent length. The sweetness and fruity elements fade relatively quickly and this leaves the oak and peppery spices to come forwards. This gives plenty of warmth and a slightly bitter and drying edge.

What's the verdict?

This is another interesting whisky from Cotswolds. We like their experimental approach to maturation and this release follows on well from the inaugural Pineau de Charentes Cask in the Hearts & Crafts series. It will be interesting to see which other directions they take this collection of limited editions in. 

This Rum Cask is expressive and vibrant, and almost not like a whisky at all. It has a set of heady aromas and a flavour profile that reminded us more of a mezcal or rhum agricole. This makes it an intriguing proposition and maybe not for everyone, but we quite enjoyed it.

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