The Oxford Artisan Distillery – Always on the lookout for a unique flavour, Women Talking discovers a golden-coloured spirit that not only tastes refined, and smooth, it has an encouraging eco-friendly story too. Distilled from ancient heritage rye, we are talking – Oxford Rye produced at The Oxford Artisan Distillery based in Oxford’s South Park, Headington.
In this case, I have been educated in understanding that there is more in a name than you think! Regarding the age of this spirit will decipher the name. As it is under three years old, it, therefore, qualifies as a pure ‘rye spirit’ rather than a ‘rye whisky’.
I was interested to learn that The Oxford Artisan Distillery is the only distillery in the world to use populations of ancient heritage grains to produce not only Oxford Rye, but their full range of spirits. The heritage rye is a crop that used to be commonly cultivated across the English countryside in pre-industrial times. It may not be the most economical way to produce spirits but the flavour profile these grains produce, and the environmental benefits outweigh the cost. The distillery’s commitment to soil quality, land regeneration, community and the environment goes beyond their passion for spirits.
Our climate in the United Kingdom, as well as worldwide, is changing, and the way the most grain is grown today is not sustainable long term. The distillery is one of the UK’s most progressive, eco-friendly, distilleries supporting research into new ways of growing grain without agri-chemicals and that enhance biodiversity.
The rye is grown in vibrant, genetically diverse, fields, mostly within 50 miles of Oxford – employing a super-sustainable practice known as ‘regenerative’ farming, which is a step on from simply being organic.
No pesticides or herbicides are used, and the distillery’s farmers embrace ancient, gentler, and kinder, methods of land management – such as using clover to suppress weeds and sequester carbon while avoiding the destructive effect of ploughing a field.
By working naturally with the land and soil, biodiversity is massively boosted, contributing to an abundance of wildflowers, insects, and birds across all the fields. As a result, its spirits have a well-deserved reputation for purity and taste.
In addition to these practices, Oxford Rye is mashed, fermented, twice distilled, and matured in American oak barrels in such a delicate way that it allows the grains’ nuances to shine through and bring out its best characteristics. It has an intoxicating aroma of sandalwood and vanilla, whilst on the palate, the delicate flavour of creamy praline, nuts and sourdough is followed by a finish of cloves, nutmeg, and smooth spice.
If you are a regular customer, each year, due to the distillery’s farming practices and subject to the natural, unforced, evolution of the grains you will find that the actual flavour of Oxford Rye slightly varies. This makes it quite unique and can always be enjoyed neat with or without ice – or as a long drink, with ginger ale, a splash of Angostura bitters and a squeeze of lime.
Another interesting fact is that the spirits produced by The Oxford Distillery are one of Britain’s very few ‘grain-to-glass distilleries (those who grow and distil their own grain, as opposed to buying in neutral spirit) maintaining production quality by keeping everything inhouse.
For more information visit The Oxford Distillery here