When you think of The Cotswolds area in the UK, you come to imagine: rolling hills; protected green spaces; beautiful yellow stone buildings; pretty little towns and villages that have multiple words within their name; decadent living; and glorious pubs. After a tip off from a friend, a trip had been organised to one such place. Not just any place though: The Ebrington Arms in Ebrington, near Chipping Campden. Winner of The Times newspaper’s “Village Pub Of The Year 2017”. The recommendation that I received however was not based on this achievement but on the quality of their Sunday lunches and their own house ale, “Yubby”.
Why am I wittering on about this pub on a whisky blog, you ask? The answer is twofold: first, I just really enjoyed this place, so wanted to spread the word about it (not that it needs any assistance); and second, it actually serves its very own scotch whisky!
Now we’re talking!
So what is the deal? Do they have a cheeky still in the back? Have they been bootlegging moonshine for years? How is it a ‘scotch’ whisky when they’re based in the north of Gloucestershire? The story behind it is actually quite sweet and heartwarming – much like the whisky itself.
In 2017, not only did the pub win the accolade of Best Village Pub from a national newspaper, but it also saw the pub celebrate its 300th anniversary since first opening and it coincided with 10 years of ownership by the husband and wife landlords. I was told by one of the staff members that the landlady was a proud Scot and to celebrate their milestones, they worked with Glasgow’s North Star Spirit company to blend their own scotch whisky for sale within the pub, and after a series of tastings, the team came up with the Yubberton – a 23 year old blended malt scotch whisky. The final whisky is limited to just 36 bottles and was captured at the marriage cask strength of 51.1% ABV. Here are the tasting notes from the day:
There’s a really sugary hit here with flavours like golden syrup. honey comb, caramel, and toffee – almost like a Cadbury’s crunchie. There’s a nice, gentle fruity flavour there too, but again it is sugary sweet, like candied peel and dates.
As soon as the whisky hits the lips, you get more of the same zingy and sugary sensations, particularly that honeycomb flavour. The liquid itself has a pretty light body and a slightly silky texture (presumably from the good amount time it has spent in a barrel) and it leaves a little malty and biscuity flavour towards the end.
A very smooth sipper here as it leaves little-to-no burn. It is a little tingly finish if anything. There’s a nice, final lingering bourbon oak/woody spice after the sweetness trails off.
This is definitely a ‘dessert whisky’ – first and foremost it is light and refreshing, which serves particularly well after food. Also, it doesn’t have that overly citrusy finish to it that we’ve described other dessert whiskies as having. The sugary sweetness really helps it along and that’s presumably down to the 23+ years of maturation. The question this leaves begging though is just what is this a blended malt of? Given that North Star are based in Glasgow then is it Auchentoshan? Presumably, with the moniker of “blended malt” then it would have to feature whiskies from at least two different Scottish distilleries. Which two are those? What barrels have been used? Regardless of these questions however, when it comes down to it, this is a lovely whisky. Even Mrs Unplugged – who is (thankfully) not a fan of whisky – said that it was “actually not bad”. Its enjoyment was helped further by the friendly environment that it can be found and served in. Altogether a great cap off to a lovely dinner.
When I asked about the name of the whisky – it seeming so similar to Ebrington – and asked as to why their beer was called Yubby, the staff explained that the word “Yubberton” was the old English name for the village of Ebrington, and that over the 300 years of its existence, the pub had kept its nickname from its locals,”The Yubby”. Awesome. I love that sort thing. (Was I technically drinking a Yubby and a Yubberton at the Yubby in Yubberton?)
Beyond the whisky…
As for the pub’s own beer itself – now knowing it to be eponymous – the “Yubby” is a fully organic best bitter. The beer is crafted by the Yubberton Brewing Co, as set up by the landlords Claire and Jim Alexander. I was told that the landlords had worked with the North Cotswold Brewery to create something that could not be bought in the shops and could be best enjoyed in its rightful place – the pub. Whether that be at the Yubby/Ebrington Arms or their other pub, The Killingworth Castle in Woodstock. If you’re interested in the beer and pubs, then go to their site here.
Going back to the original recommendation and reason for attending, I can also confirm that the Sunday lunch was possibly the best Sunday lunch that I have had in a pub. Certainly the best in a long time.
Put all of these elements together and this truly is one rare gem.