In a recent interview with Cory Muscato of Buffalo’s Lockhouse Gin, he said to me, “If you ever see a cloudy gin— buy it. There’s so much flavor in the gin that the alcohol couldn’t hold it all.”
It wasn’t that long ago, that a gin that made a cloudy gin and tonic, was considered faulty. This effect is referred to by Absinthe drinkers as a Louche or more generally as the Ouzo effect. When a spirit contains a large amount of hydrophobic essential oils— commonly found in botanicals such as anise— normally soluble in ethanol begin to come out of solution as water is added. As you drip water into Absinthe, Ouzo or gins like Cotswolds Dry Gin, cloudiness begins to appear.
As we as gin drinkers have become more sophisticated, the choice to keep those hydrophobic essential oils suspended in a gin has become recognized as a design choice. Cotswolds Dry Gin proudly proclaims that they do not chill filter their gin. Cotswolds uses “10x the average amount of botanicals” in their copper pot still [source]. The gin is distilled from neutral grain and features some local touches, including lavender from the picturesque and renowned Snowshill Lavender Farm.
Highly aromatic, you can smell Cotswolds Dry Gin intensely just when opening the bottle— or from across the table while someone else is pouring. Instantly, a ghostly specter of juniper hangs in the air.
The aroma is lucid. Grapefruit oils, a hint of lime, a lavender tinged floral musk, and a hearty and intensely true to fresh ground juniper berries touch of juniper. Lovely and vibrant, it’s a nose that certainly stands in memory.
Tasted, Cotswolds Dry Gin shows a slightly menthol and mint character, reminiscent of watermint. Sweet citrus, vibrant Tellicherry peppercorns on mid-palate. Juniper is certainly present, but especially towards the back of the palate it takes on a distinctive angelica root note. Citrus comes through as well, with orange and candied lime, even slightly sherbet-like.
Cotswolds Dry Gin is very restrained in its use of cardamom and lavender. Rather than hit you in the face with it— despite the 10x botanical remark— the two add color but never take center stage.
The finish is fairly long with a good deal of flavor and character. A bit of bitterness in the back of the palate, Cotswolds’ coda is slightly earthy with a camphoraceous coolness.
Adding water, the gin quickly becomes Opalescent. The louche is rather intense in here. As water is added, vegetal notes emerge. A bright note of celery stalk rises. The aroma changes slightly as well, with vegetal notes taking over and pushing the citrus to the background.
Sipped with water added, you’ll find that some of the spice notes come out a bit more. More pepper, More cardamom, more coriander, and especially on the finish, a lot more bay leaf. The juniper and angelica become a bit more vegetal, with hints of celery and herbes de provence, with angelica’s distinctive musk note becoming much, much louder.
Similar taste transformations take hold in chilled drinks like the Martini, stirred. I find that an olive better complements Cotswolds Dry Gin’s more vegetal character after stirring— or if you’re feeling adventurous. Cotswolds is also delightful made up in a Gibson.
You’ll get a slightly more vegetal take in your Cotswold’s Gin and Tonic also, with notes of celery and eucalyptus adding perceptual coolness on the nose and palate. I recommend it garnishes with a slice of cucumber rather than the usual citrus fruit.
The flavor of Cotswolds Dry Gin is bold and vivid and it tends to dominate. Bartenders and bar program managers would be well advised to use it carefully in their bar program and make custom cocktails that play to its strength. If you treat it like a workhouse mixer, you’ll be treated to some unusual and slightly discordant flavor accords, such as the Aviation, Negroni, or Ramos Gin Fizz (creamy drinks with vegetal notes can be a little reminiscent of cream of ________ soup, for example).
Cotswolds Dry Gin is a well-made and well-executed gin that transforms our expectations. What was once (wrongly) considered a fault, is now exalted. And the result is a persnickety gin that will appeal to fans of assertive contemporary styles.