In musical parlance, a second album can often be a difficult proposition for a band – particularly if that band found immediate success and acclaim with their first release. There’s pressure to follow-up the feat with a further triumph….indeed, there’s invariable expectations to surpass that debut with a remarkable encore. Difficult second album syndrome is well documented, but also to my mind has application for the growing category of young distilleries – some have had remarkable introductions, others have raised heckles with their initial pricing – but, regardless, there are still hopes and preconceptions for what comes after.
Not that long ago in a distillery not that far away....New spirit first ran from Cotswolds’ two pot stills (Mary and Janis) on 5th September 2014. Seventeen days later the very first casks of Cotswolds single malt were laid down to slumber. Fast-forward to the end of 2017 and the minimum 3 year maturation period had passed. Already over 25,000 visitors had been attracted each year and the distillery was (and still is) Tripadvisor’s #1 thing to do in the Cotswolds. At this stage, other new distilleries have (at least in recent history) bolted out the gates with fanciful stories of luxury and premium alongside even more fanciful inaugural edition bottle prices. But, not Cotswolds.
We would like to imagine that whisky blenders and bottlers choose to purchase and bottle their casks by walking through mouldy dunnage warehouses, smelling out classic whiskies like airport sniffer dogs. The truth, though, is that industry decisions are more often made from spreadsheets. In the distant future when spreadsheets seem archaic, we’ll hear on tours how some distilleries still use a second-hand copy of Excel 95 for their cask management because it was built so well it never broke and they’re too traditional to risk changing what they do.