This weekend Scots – or simply lovers of haggis and whisky – will raise a toast to the greatest Scottish poet Robert ‘Rabbie’ Burns.

But while the traditional drink of choice has to be a good Scottish single malt, one distiller is encouraging us to drink local – and address the haggis while supping a single malt made in the Cotswolds.

New Yorker Daniel Szor was a successful investor, at home in The City and Wall Street, until, in his words, he "was bitten by the whisky bug".

Searching for a change of pace he and his wife bought an old farmhouse in Stourton, near Chipping Norton, and, aware of the phenomenal growth of interest in craft spirits in the USA, decided to combine his love of whisky and the Cotswolds by creating the first-ever full-scale distillery in the region, with a focus on premium small-batch gin and single malt whisky made with local ingredients. Since it was founded in 2014, the distillery now has a team of over 50 people.

“Burns Night is a brilliant opportunity for us to raise a dram of our Cotswolds Single Malt Whisky and celebrate with our friends north of the border,” he says.

“I have always been a fan of single malt whiskies. The Cotswolds Distillery was born out of a dream to produce ultra-premium small batch whisky and other spirits in one of the most beautiful regions in the world.”

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His Cotswolds Single Malt Whisky is listed in Waitrose and can be found in luxury retailers such as Harrods, Harvey Nichols and Fortnum & Mason.

Oxford Mail:

It has received multiple awards across the world including the World Whiskies Awards, San Francisco World Spirits Competition and International Wine & Spirits Competition, while the Founder’s Choice release has won multiple gold medals and was the only whisky to be given three stars at last year’s Great Taste Awards.

“We use 100 per cent locally grown barley which is traditionally floor-malted at Warminster, Britain’s oldest working maltings," he says.

"We use two strains of dried yeast and unusually long fermentations (over 90 hours) in order to generate a fruity complexity in our whisky. We only take the purest part of the spirit run – the ‘hearts’. We use ex-Bourbon barrels from Kentucky and shaved toasted and re-charred American oak red wine barriques to mature our flagship Single Malt."

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 “English whisky distilleries are beginning to appear all over the country and the Cotswolds Distillery is at the fore of this exciting new category."

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And how does it compare to Scotch? “There is a huge diversity in Scottish whiskies, with peated and unpeated whiskies, so it is hard to compare our whisky directly to Scottish whisky as a whole.

"Ours are rich, fruity and sippable with notes of honey, Seville orange marmalade and dark red fruits.”

And what’s the best way to drink it? “There are no rules when it comes to how best to enjoy a drink," he says. "It’s all about creating the perfect drink for each person and each occasion. You can sip our whisky neat or in elaborate cocktails... but we believe it’s beautiful on its own.”

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The distillery recently launched a Cotswolds Old Tom Gin and second cask strength single malt whisky – Peated Cask.

Whisky enthusiasts are also invited to join a whisky blending masterclass.”

Oxford Mail:

The experience, which costs £100, includes a highball whisky cocktail on arrival, guided tour of the distillery and the warehouse, detailed explanation of the whisky-making process, blending your own whisky and creating your own whisky cocktail.

Visitors take away two 20cl bottles of their bespoke single malt whisky and one 20cl bottle of Cotswolds Single Malt Whisky. Cheers!

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