Oxford, 12th July 2021 – The Oxford Artisan Distillery, the UK’s first certified Organic Grain-to-Glass distillery*, has announced the launch of its second release of Oxford Rye Whisky.

The distillery produces superior English rye whisky using ancient heritage grains**, grown by the distillery’s certified organic and regenerative farming partners. These grains require no pesticides, fungicides or herbicides, supporting sustainability and biodiversity in their fields.

The first batch of The Oxford Artisan Distillery’s inaugural rye whisky, Batch #1, released at the end of April, sold out on the day of its launch and received outstanding acclaim.

Oxford Rye Whisky Batch #2, bottled at 47.4% ABV, has the distillery’s classic Oxford Rye house-style: herbal and floral with creamy butterscotch notes, nutty and spicy banana bread, but with an elevated sweet wine flavour of berry jams, dried fruits, leather and tobacco.

The whisky in this batch was matured in virgin American oak casks and freshly emptied Vintage Port casks. Having spent many years in production the Port casks bring the very best characteristics of Portugal’s famed Douro wine valley to the Thames valley, and the character of Oxford’s only Rye Whisky.

Master Distiller, Chico Rosa comments: “The goal with this whisky was to bring you to Oxford; which for me is rye fields and old libraries. It’s herbal, nutty and cured. Like our diverse fields of grain, this is a diverse experience of sensations.”

Adding: ”The first release was our pure expression of rye – virgin oak, fruity, with a herbal and bready character. With this batch, I wanted to highlight a different side of our rye – the herbal nuttiness and rye goodness, while also bringing a decadent and musky hint of Vintage Port. Showing their years the Port casks add a layer of complexity, without overtaking, only complementing.” 

The Oxford Artisan Distillery is the only distillery in England to use populations of ancient heritage grains; painstakingly sourced, revived and bulked up over many years and grown sustainably using methods last used back in the 19th century. As a result Oxford Rye Whisky has a flavour that cannot be achieved from commercial grain.

To create this expression, the grain ratio was made up of 90% maslin (a mix of 70% rye and 20% wheat from populations grown together in the same field) and 10% heritage malted barley – which was harvested in the summer of 2017. The grain was not milled, but instead flattened in a very loud, eccentric traditional mill from the 1920s. The resulting course flakes were then made up in to an 8,000L watery porridge.

Spring fermentation – which has delivered richer fruit characters compared with Batch #1’s winter fermentation – was undertaken in 5000L Hungarian oak vats. The porous oak helps the distillery to have a consistent and stable in-house fermenting culture, allowing microflora to give fruitier flavours and creamier notes. The mash was then double distilled in the distillery’s bespoke custom-made stills, named Nautilus and Nemo, where the grains get baked into smoky sourdough notes. Then finally, the new make spirit was matured in virgin American oak casks and freshly emptied Vintage Port casks.

Oxford Rye Whisky Batch #2 consists of 973 bottles, priced at £95, and will be available from specialist retailers including Master of Malt, Harvey Nichols, The Whisky Exchange, The Whisky Shop, Oxford Wine and the distillery’s website from 13th July.

Following this second release, the third batch of Oxford Rye Whisky will be released on 31st July to celebrate the distillery’s fourth anniversary. This is a truly seasonal edition matured in Moscatel de Setúbal and distilled with grain from the 2017 Harvest. More information will follow.


Oxford Rye Whisky Batch #2 Tasting Notes by Master Distiller, Chico Rosa: 

Aroma: Aniseed and violets with an incredible herbal freshness and a touch of banana and praline leading

to toffee. Red apples and hazelnut, peppery.

Taste: Creamy butterscotch, strawberry jam and blackcurrant with raisins, cobnuts and walnuts, honey

and ginger cake.

Finish: An intensely sweet and spicy finish of banana bread, berries, tobacco, leather and peppermint

with creamy caramel wrapped in an old dusty leather, library book. 

The Oxford Artisan Distillery:

The distillery opened for business at its purpose-built site in Oxford on 27th July 2017.

It is Oxford’s first ever distillery and produces a range of spirits, including gin, absinthe, vodka and whisky, all with total provenance from grain to glass. The Oxford Artisan Distillery is rare amongst UK distilleries in producing its own organic spirit, rather than purchasing Grain Neutral Spirit (GNS) from other sources.

The distillery has a licence to produce spirits for the University of Oxford and has a notable partnership with the University of Oxford’s Botanic Garden.  

*UK’s first certified Organic Grain-to-Glass distillery

According to the latest figures released by WSTA in 2020, the number of the distilleries registered in the UK grew to 560 from over 414 in 2019. Out of these The Oxford Artisan Distillery is the only distillery cultivating, distilling, and bottling its own organic heritage grains. 

**About Organic Heritage Grain:

Certified Organic in April 2020, The Oxford Artisan Distillery is the only distiller to use genetically diverse populations of ancient heritage organic grains – revived from historical sources by a leading archaeo-botanist and grown sustainably on over 350 acres, known as land races, both close to Oxford and on prestigious estates such as Highgrove and Sandringham. The distillery’s grain contributes to biodiversity and soil health in the English countryside. The grains are the result of John Lett’s lifelong research on ancient grains: John has spent a large part of his life sourcing and growing ancient grains together, as polycultures. John takes 30-100 varieties of grain, mixes them up, and grows them together in the same field, at the same time. These sustainable fields are similar to what you would have seen in medieval times – the grains are grown specifically for the distillery, making The Oxford Artisan Distillery the only distillery in the world with a license to use John’s grains, grown exclusively for flavour and not yield.

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