Purple Grain is a cask-strength celebration of our 5th Anniversary. Crafted from heritage grains, this whisky was matured in rare Moscatel Roxo Casks from Setúbal, Portugal, resulting in a decadent whisky with a refreshing, summery punch. The resulting whisky has strong hazelnut and almond notes that sit alongside dried summer fruits, fresh herbs and our classic butter-pastry house character.
Our Anniversary Rye has been an eagerly awaited annual launch since its inaugural expression in celebration of our first birthday in 2018. Last year, for the very first time, our Anniversary Rye was a whisky and this year we’re chasing it up with something even more special. Introducing: Purple Grain.
Aroma: Floral and herbal introduction with fruity notes progressing to berries, stone fruits and raisins. A complex grain profile with flapjack, buttery pastry notes, hazelnut, almonds, demerara sugar and black pepper.
Palate: Pain aux raisins with hazelnut milk chocolate. Hints of sour cream, sweet grapes and savoury salinity.
Finish: A hint of toasted sourdough, mint and Szechuan pepper.
Overall: Dried summer fruits and nuts pair with our classic butter-pastry house character.
Though from the name you might be thinking Purple Barley, Purple Grain follows our house mash bill of 90% maslin (70% rye and 20% wheat) and 10% malted barley.
Purple Grain is a blend of casks 296, 297, 298 and 299. The liquid began its maturation in charred virgin American oak casks for 2 years before being moved to four freshly emptied 225L Moscatel Roxo casks from Setúbal, Portugal, where it matured for 1 year and 2 months.
Let us guide you through the Purple Grain.
Purple Moscatel, or Moscatel Roxo, is a variety of grape which was almost lost entirely when planting of its fragile vines ceased due to the risk of phylloxera, an insect pest that wiped out many celebrated vines and grape varieties. Thanks to the painstaking efforts of winemakers in Portugal, Moscatel Roxo has been revived and we can now not only drink it again but also enjoy the impact of its casks on our whisky making. It is a concept that we can relate to; shaping our future through traditions from the past.
The maturation of our whisky in these special casks enhanced the pastry character of our spirit delivering notes of pain aux raisins, alongside nuts, chocolate and stone fruit. The floral notes of the wine perfectly complement the floral character of our spirit.
Purple Grain is delicious on its own, with a dash of water or with a couple of ice cubes. If you are into making cocktails, try Purple Grain in an Old Fashioned with lower sugar addition, good and fast ice dilution, an orange zest and some cool tunes in the background.
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.
The organic heritage grain used for this batch was harvested in the Autumn of 2017, just after we threw open the doors to our distillery for the first time. The first casks of rye whisky were laid down within months.
It was a diverse maslin grain harvest, such is the result of letting nature take its course in a healthy, diverse field, with several different grains growing together including multiple ancient heritage rye strains, wheat strains and even a few oats and a few thistles. It is this authenticity, transported straight from our fields, that gives our whisky its flavour. 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 and toasty sourdough crust flavours come courtesy of the pot distillation in Nautilus.
As our grains ferment in our mixed culture, a lovely butter dimension comes to life and influenced by distillation and maturation, it metamorphoses from custard and pastry to white chocolate and bog butter as an earthy expression of the grain and the field. Similarly to our previous release, Easy Ryder, the pronounced savoury character of this release is the result of the sandy soils from Oxford combined with the salinity and sandy soils by the sea in Setúbal.
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.