Here at The Oxford Artisan Distillery, responsible farming will always be the first stage in our whisky making; taking our time, regenerating the land and supporting biodiversity with every bottle.
And what we can tell you now is that our (and your) three years of patience has paid off with a whisky well worth the wait. A celebration of rye, this is a fantastically layered whisky with herbal notes from the rye, nuts and caramel from the wheat and sweet malted barley combining with oaky vanilla.
Our whisky began life with a diverse maslin grain harvest in 2017, with several different grains growing together in the same field including multiple ancient heritage rye strains, wheat strains and even a few oats and a few thistles, such is the result of letting nature take its course in a healthy, diverse field. It is this authenticity, transported straight from our fields, that gives our whisky its flavour. We like to say we’re farming a new approach to spirits.
Rye is amazingly powerful and will always bring certain characteristics, but where our whisky is rooted in American Rye Whiskey it is certainly not American Rye Whiskey. A long fermentation in Hungarian oak vats has contributed fruity and creamy notes, toasty sourdough crust flavours come courtesy of flaking the grain in a centenary mill, rather than true milling, before maturing in virgin American Oak casks.
A limited edition run, this will never be repeated.
“It’s impossible not to be impressed by The Oxford Artisan Distillery’s first rye whisky. It’s warming, bready and spicy on the nose with hints of coconut, anise and toasted marshmallow, while the palate delivers incredible depth with a rich fruitiness that moves into buttery, toasted rye bread slathered with melty, chocolatey Nutella. I’m amazed by how much flavour and complexity has been packed into this young whisky. Yet it still retains an important balance between spirit and cask that allows the beautiful heritage rye character to shine through.”
We use rye, wheat and barley grain, all historically fascinating and grown from varieties that were common before 1904, when the advent of modern farming changed how crops were sown and grown.
Our heritage grain is grown sustainably, eschewing pesticides, chemical fertilisers and even manuring. There is low to no crop rotation and the crop is undersown with clover. All of this contributes to an abundance of wildflowers, insects and birds across our farms.
In the past, farmers grew genetically-diverse landraces that adapted to local growing conditions over many generations. Our ‘heritage populations’ are also diverse, resilient and adaptable. Each plant in the field is different, creating a crop which is more vigorous, healthy and hardy than modern monoculture crops – without the need for chemicals.
Every part of our landrace sustains the agro-ecosystem – from microorganisms in the soil, to insects buzzing and birds flying above.