ICBD 2024 Annual Talk – English Whisky – The Cotswold Distillery

“Would You Adam and Eve It…?”

The Annual WCD/ICBD Talk took place in Edinburgh on the evening of 22 January, at the home of 603 Squadron RAuxAF, our military affiliates.

Around 25 Heriot Watt ICBD students and staff enjoyed a taste of Cotswold Signature Single Malt English whisky on arrival. Before the main talk a short welcome (and recruiting pitch!) was delivered by Squadron Leader Derek Read, Officer Commanding 603 Squadron and recently installed Liveryman by Presentation.

Michael Urquhart, Chairman of the Distillers Scottish Committee, officiated and introduced Morag Garden, former head of sustainability and innovation at the Scotch Whisky Association and now CEO of the English Whisky Guild. Morag described the formation, scope and development of the Guild and its progress in seeking to establish a Geographical Indicator (GI) for the English whisky industry.

Michael then introduced the main speaker, Nick Franchino, Master Blender at The Cotswold Distillery, who delivered an entertaining ‘nuts and bolts’ talk on the development of English whisky and the trials, tribulations (and pleasures) of its production in a relatively small-scale distillery. With examples and imagery, Nick successfully emphasised the need for a very much ‘all hands on deck’ philosophy.

Finally Jerry Riley of the Scottish Committee, and on behalf of the Distillers VTEC, advertised to the students the forthcoming Business of Spirits session, taking place at Heriot Watt on 22 February, as well as the opportunity to apply for the WCD Entrepreneurship Award.

The evening was rounded off by sampling the Cotswold Distillery’s Sherry Cask and Founder’s Choice bottles together with an opportunity to see a little of 603 Squadron’s fine HQ in the former 19th century home of Arthur Sanderson of that ilk.

A huge thanks to Nick for travelling north in the aftermath of Storm Isha and delivering such an excellent insight into English (and especially Cotswold) whisky production. Thanks too to Morag for highlighting the development of the English Whisky Guild. And of course thanks to 603 Squadron for their ubiquitous support in hosting this series of talk.

Jerry Riley