Caskaway

Caskaway: Dan Szor's desert island drams

In each edition, we ask one of the industry’s great and good which drams they would take to our desert island
By Phoebe Calver
Cotswolds Distillery founder Dan Szor was born and raised in New York City and spent most of his professional life living in Paris and London, specialising in the sales and marketing of currency investment management services. It was during his years in Paris that Dan was first bitten by the whisky bug.
While living in London, Dan and his wife purchased an old farmhouse in the North Cotswolds and gradually fell in love with the area. Aware of the phenomenal growth of interest in craft spirits, he decided to combine his love of whisky and the Cotswolds by creating the first full-scale distillery in the region, with a focus on premium small-batch gin and single malt whisky made with local ingredients.

WHISKY #1

Bruichladdich
Private Cask (2002), 11 Years Old

My best friend Dave and I were given a distillery tour in 2002 by production head Jim McEwan, who is also a master salesman, and within 10 minutes we’d been talked into buying a barrel (Cask 674). On our last trip to the distillery to check out our cask before bottling it, I went to see Jim to ask what he thought of my idea to make whisky in the Cotswolds, to which he replied: “What are you waiting for, lad... You need to follow your dreams!” And the rest is history. This is a very nice refill bourbon cask which was filled with [new-style] Bruichladdich. The whisky was casked at super-high strength and, as a result, weighs in at a hefty 64.9% ABV, even after 11 years!

WHISKY #2

Millstone
Sherry Cask, 12 Years Old

I am proud to be part of the ‘world whisky’ movement – all those brave misfits who never got the memo that you had to be Scottish or Irish if you were going to make it in the whisky world. I love the audacity and, very often, intense focus on quality that consumes many of these non-traditional whisky makers, and Netherlands-based Patrick van Zuidam is a shining example. Born into a distilling family, Patrick was instrumental in his distillery’s move from a mainly
genever base to whisky production – and his whiskies are astounding in quality. I particularly love his sherry casks, which provide intensely
moreish and comforting notes of
fruit and chocolate.

WHISKY #3

Wild Turkey
101

I think it would be important to have a variety of whisky on my desert island, and man does not live by barley alone! Of all the entry-level bourbons, I think Wild Turkey is my favourite, and, for the money, I think 101 is a great buy, with a sufficient ABV to deliver the sort of full flavours I like. Wild Turkey has a relatively traditional mash bill, pretty high on the corn, but what I really appreciate is the balance in the flavour – it just plain works for me. And I love Jimmy Russell, and the fact that, as the oldest living master distiller, he would still regularly take time out of his day to meet with fans in their visitor centre.

WHISKY #4

Cotswolds Single Malt Whisky
Founder's Choice

I love all our whiskies – and we now have six core expressions, along with three limited-edition releases – but it would be difficult for me to lie about my favourite, given the name of this one. Made with locally grown, floor-malted barley (as is the case for all our whiskies), this has been aged for a minimum of five years in our wonderful re-charred ex-red wine casks. They marry beautifully with our rich and fruity spirit to create a whisky which combines the fruitiness of a great Armagnac, the earthiness and body of bourbon and the finesse of single malt: roasted chocolate and coffee,
and lots of fruit against a wonderful single malt backbone. It’s the sort of whisky I could happily drink forever. And, at 61.9% ABV, it’s concentrated enough to last for a (reasonably) long time on my desert island! This cask was developed by the late, great Dr Jim Swan, who was instrumental in helping us get to where we are today – so the Founder's Choice expression is dedicated to his memory.

LUXURY ITEM
Though it is rather large and unwieldly, I would ask to bring along my Big Green Egg grill, as I am a big BBQ fan, and what is BBQ without whisky (and vice-versa)? I would hope that my island would have lots of good hardwood to burn in it, and various fish and small animals to smoke, and I would look forward to finally having enough time to do some serious low-and-slow cooking to pass the time.