Whisky Focus - The Oxford Artisan Distillery Celebrates Fourth Anniversary

The Oxford Artisan Distillery Celebrates Fourth Anniversary

16th August 2021
The Oxford Artisan Distillery is celebrating its 4th anniversary and the release of its Oxford Rye Whisky Batch #3 to commemorate the occasion. The whisky was initially matured in American oak casks and then underwent a second maturation in Moscatel wine casks, sourced directly from Portugal.

Oxford Rye Whisky Batch #3The Oxford Artisan Distillery, the UK’s first certified Organic Grain-to-Glass distillery, is celebrating its four year anniversary and the release of its third batch of Oxford Rye Whisky to commemorate the occasion.

The distillery officially opened on 31st July 2017 and the production of rye whisky from heritage organic grains was part of its core plan from the outset. The first casks of rye whisky were laid down just a few months after the distillery opened.

For this special anniversary bottling of Oxford Rye Whisky Batch #3, the liquid was first rested in American oak casks and then underwent a second maturation in Moscatel wine casks, sourced directly from Portugal. The Moscatel (Muscat) grapes are turned into a sweet, fortified wine in the Peninsula de Setúbal region. It is a particularly aromatic grape variety with citrus, flowery, lichee and pear flavours and pronounced sweet fruity notes.

The Oxford Artisan Distillery tells me that the wine cask influence gives a floral and stone fruit character adding a rich sweetness to the rye. With an intriguing and complex profile, Batch #3 is packed with notes of fruity gummy bears, peach, apricot and banana bubble gum, then swathes of honey and stone fruits, touched off with white chocolate, a zing of tea-tree then finally nutmeg and smoky hints of oriental BBQ.

Master Distiller, Chico Rosa comments: "The sweet fruity flavours from the rye spirit and the Moscatel cask combine seamlessly in a floral bouquet of summer gardens. Our first batch was a classic take on American rye whisky. Batch #2 was more complex and inspired by Oxford, and with Batch #3 I wanted to bring more cask influence to our rye spirit. This batch of whisky suits this season impeccably - it breathes a wealth of freshness and summer fruits, with such beautiful complexity and vibrancy of flavours, it’s absolutely lush. Perfect to toast our first four years!"

The organic heritage grain used for this batch was harvested in the Autumn of 2017, just after the distillery’s opening. 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, the grain is flattened and the resulting course flakes are made up in to a thick porridge. Fermentation for this batch took place over six days in the distillery’s bespoke 5000L Hungarian Oak vats, using their own in-house fermenting culture.

Double distilled in the distillery’s truly remarkable custom-made stills, named Nautilus and Nemo, where the grains get baked into sticky sourdough notes, the resulting new make spirit was matured in virgin American oak casks for 17 months and then put in to Moscatel de Setúbal wine casks for a period of 19 months.

Oxford Rye Whisky is described as having a full and varied flavour profile that is impossible to attain from commercially grown grain. The Oxford Artisan Distillery is the only distillery in the world to use these 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.

Oxford Rye Whisky Batch #3 is bottled at a cask strength of 51.2% ABV and consists of 551 bottles, it is very boldly priced at £120, note that you can still find Oxford Rye Whisky Batch #2 in whisky shops for £90. If your pockets are deep enough and you want to taste the new young English Rye whisky you will find it available from specialist online whisky retailers such as The Whisky Exchange and Master of Malt

Oxford Rye Whisky Batch #3 Review

Producer's Tasting Notes:

Nose: Floral and herbal, banana smoothie, stone fruits, marzipan and a hint of smoke. Dive in more and get: apple, pear, liquorice, raisins, cream, smoked moss.

Taste: Gummy bears, banana gum, honey, apricot, melon, white chocolate, nutmeg and oriental BBQ.

Finish: Butterscotch, tea tree, mint, muscovado sugar and smoke.

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