We’re boutique and we’re local…

The Cotswolds Distillery was born out of a dream to produce world-class small batch whisky, gin and other spirits in one of the most beautiful regions in the world, The Cotswolds.

We’ve put together a highly experienced and passionate team to embark upon our journey to create artisanal spirits using traditional, centuries old distilling methods and local ingredients of the highest quality.

Our Team

Daniel Szor, Founder / CEO

The Cotswolds Distillery is the brainchild of Daniel Szor.  Dan came to the Cotswolds several years ago from London with his wife Katia and daughter Emily to spend family time at the weekends in an old barn, just down the road from where the distillery now sits.  What started as a weekend love affair with this beautiful region soon turned into a passion, so much so that Dan and his family decided to leave London and live full-time in the Cotswolds.  Dan was looking for a way out of his 30-year career in finance, to create something with his own hands and make a difference in the community.  He’d been a whisky-lover for over 20 years, and looking out of his window one day he saw a field of golden barley waving in the breeze – and that was how the idea of the Cotswolds Distillery was born.

Nickolas Franchino, Distillery Operations Manager

Nick’s interest in artisan spirits was piqued at an early age when tasting his Italian relatives’ homemade liqueurs and spirits, and after reaching a crossroads in life knew that making artisan spirits was what he really wanted to do, and that the time was right to follow his heart’s calling. With BA in Archaeology and Masters degrees in Physical Anthropology and Philosophy, and careers in the family import business and the hospitality trade, as well as a short lived and adrenaline-fueled time as a professional cage fighter change was in order. After meeting Dan at an IBD led distilling course in Edinburgh he arrived at the Cotswolds Distillery several months later.

Shaun Smith, Head Brewer & Assistant Distillery Manager

After graduating Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh with an MSc in Brewing and Distilling Shaun went straight to work as a brewer and head of R&D for a small craft brewery in West Sussex. During the past year he developed many proven botanical beer recipes, including new spirit beers, but his true passion was always distilling. Shaun’s master’s degree project was in Absinthe production, and he made quite an impression on Dan showing up for his interview in the Cotswolds armed with several bottles of the “green fairy”, along with a few amazing gins, all of which he’d put together in his spare time! Shaun is highly creative, and equally at home in R&D and production. He is looking forward to working with Alex and Nick and creating memorable artisanal spirits.

Angus Oliver, Assistant Distiller

Working in pubs and bars after leaving school, it became clear to Angus that the drinks industry suited his skill set. With a hard-working attitude and a constantly cheery outlook on life he has fit straight into our team. Excited for the future, Angus has an eagerness to continue to learn the world of distilling.

James Mason, Head of Sales

James joined us as Head of Sales, following a successful career spanning strategy consulting, Moet Hennessy (the wine & spirits division of LVMH) & most recently Nyetimber, where he was Global Head of Sales. During his seven-year career at LVMH, James held a variety of positions including UK On-Trade Sales, European Strategy, and International Business Development for Hennessy cognac - covering Europe, Africa, the Middle East & Latin America.

Before obtaining his MBA from INSEAD in 2007, James was a strategy consultant - including 3 years based in New York, specialising in the alcoholic drinks sector. James now heads up our commercial team, covering everything from domestic to export markets. Born in Scotland, but raised in England, and educated down the road at the University of Oxford, James is looking forward to reconciling his dual nationalities here at the Cotswold Distillery!

Melanie Crowson, Head of Accounts and Administration

Born and bred in the Cotswolds, Mel has built up a wealth of experience managing the accounts of numerous small and medium sized businesses over the years. Great with people, and an excellent communicator she helps to keep us all on the straight and narrow, and the distillery flowing. A keen baker, she and her husband Andy have four children, two of whom help out in the distillery shop from time to time. They live in Stratford upon Avon with Scruffy, Raj and Benny, the family pets.

Dee Gogia, Regional Sales Manager

Having run a successful business and then a complete career change as a consultant in the wine industry, Dee read numerous articles in the press about Dan's passion and vision to start the first ever distillery in the Cotswolds and was hooked. Dee’s young family decided that this was the perfect opportunity to relocate and to settle permanently from his lifelong homeland of West London to the beautiful Cotswolds at the back end of 2014. He started with the business on a Part-Time Basis in February and by June, the demand and success of the brand was so high that Full-Time was the natural next step to help grow and progress the business.

Gemma McDonald, Shop Manager

Gemma was brought up in Stourton and remembers the Distillery from then being nothing but a derelict building! Having then spent time living and working in Oxford, London, Australia and Cheltenham, she moved back to the village where she has now settled in her cottage opposite to the Distillery! Gemma is from a PA/Secretarial background and jumped at the opportunity to work for a local and really exciting business. Her father, being a Scotsman, was particularly excited!

Our Mentors


Harry Cockburn is helping Dan to set up the distillery, and is responsible for all aspects of production. Harry has more than 45 years’ experience in the distilling industry, dating back to 1965. After nearly 10 years as Chief Engineer at Inver House Distillers where he was responsible for malt and grain distilling, malting, bottling & blending and cooperage, he headed off to Islay.

There he spent the next 20 years with Bowmore Distillery (Morrison Bowmore Distillers) in several roles, including Distillery Manager and then Group Engineer for three distilleries: Bowmore, Auchentossan, and Glen Gerioch.  He also carried out the installation and commissioning of distilleries in South Korea and Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. In 1990 he became Production Director of Bowmore and remained in that position until its takeover by Suntory of Japan in 1994.

Harry’s intention was to take early retirement, but that didn’t last long. He soon decided to launch his own distillery production consulting firm, becoming a leading consultant to the whisky industry.  Since then he has worked with numerous distillery startups across the globe, including Belgium, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand, U.S., France, Uruguay, India, Turkey, South Africa, France, China, Italy, Ireland and Bhutan.

When he is not working on distilleries Harry spends his time with his lovely wife Marlene, their children and grandchildren and their beautiful garden.


Jim Swan’s unique knowledge of whisky-making technology and processes makes him the ultimate whisky troubleshooter and he advises countless distilleries around the world. During his more than 35-year career Jim has been chemist, analyst, blender, maturation expert, researcher and developer, inventor, author of scientific papers, technical adviser and lecturer.

He has accumulated deep, detailed knowledge about topics ranging from oak wood products, cask management, flavour composition, distillation and blending. He holds a degree in Chemistry and a Ph.D. in Chemistry and Biological Studies from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh. Jim spent 10 years as operations director of Blending, Bottling and Maturation Studies at Pentlands Scotch Whisky Research in Edinburgh (predecessor of the Scotch Whisky Research Institute) and in the 1990’s he became owner and partner at beer, wines and spirits consultant RR Tatlock and Thomson.

Jim is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry and was awarded Fellowship of the Institute of Brewing and Distilling and more recently a special award from The Malt Advocate magazine for services to the barrel industry.

His particular areas of expertise – and his unique contribution to our company - include barrel purchase programmes and decisions on wood choice and maturation strategies.


Craig Mackinlay has been serving as our creative director and is the godfather of our branding.  His firm, Breeze Creative Design Consultants, was set up in 2004 by him and his wife Nicola on the back of over 30 years’ combined experience in the design/media/marketing industry. Previously Craig was Head of Design at one of Scotland’s big agencies and he has many international awards, particularly for brand development and packaging design, demonstrating his ability to come up with truly effective and impactful design solutions.

His clients have something really special to offer the marketplace and they choose Craig for his ability to convey their unique qualities through a variety of media. Craig’s specialty is whisky, and he has helped to create numerous iconic brands north of the border – this is his first English whisky project.



The Cotswolds Distillery Phillip's Field, Whichford Road, Stourton, Shipston-on-Stour, CV36 5HG
T: +44 (0) 1608 238 533 E: info@cotswoldsdistillery.com

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