Whisky Focus - Oxford Rye Whisky Batch 1 Review

Oxford Rye Whisky Batch 1

23rd April 2021
The Oxford Artisan Distillery launches its inaugural whisky release, not a single malt, but rather uniquely a English Rye Whisky - Oxford Rye Whisky Batch #1.

The Oxford Artisan Distillery Oxford Rye Whisky Batch 1The Oxford Artisan Distillery, a new small English micro distillery, which to date has turned out some vodka and gins like many new small distilleries has unveiled its inaugural whisky release, and it is something a little different for whisky enthusiasts to explore, not a single malt as you may have expected but an English Rye Whisky  - Oxford Rye Whisky Batch #1.

Oxford Rye Whisky Batch #1 has been produced 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 production of rye whisky has been part of The Oxford Artisan Distillery’s core plan from day one, with the first casks laid down more than 3 years ago, a few months after the distillery opened in July, 2017.

Oxford Rye Whisky Batch #1 was distilled in 2017, matured in two virgin oak casks and has been bottled at 46.3% ABV, it is described as having a characteristic rye spice, big banana bread flavours, hints of freshly baked sourdough and herbal notes which play with its creamy and nutty texture.

The mash bill for the Oxford Rye Whisky 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 is 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 and stirred vigorously by oar (in keeping with Oxford traditions).

Cold winter fermentation was undertaken in 5000L Hungarian oak vats. The porous oak allows yeast and bacteria (wild or not) to live in the wood and over time helps the distillery to have a consistent and stable in-house fermenting culture, which allows for the microflora to give fruitier flavours and creamier notes. These oak vats also help regulate temperature and pH during fermentation. The mash was then double distilled in the distillery’s bespoke custom-made stills, named Nautilus and Nemo. Then finally, the new make spirit was matured in two virgin American oak casks for more than three years.

Following the first batch, the second batch of Oxford Rye Whisky will be made available for pre-ordering from 10am on Saturday 24th April, with delivery being made available from early July. Created using the same grain mix as Batch #1 but with fermentation taking place in Spring 2018, when the weather was warmer, which has delivered more tropical fruit characters, this batch has been matured in New American Oak and finished in a wine cask, more information will follow.

I was invited to the online launch tasting of this inaugural whisky release from Oxford but missed the launch due to other commitments so I cannot comment on its quality but it is great to see a new micro distillery doing something different.

Oxford Rye Whisky Batch #1 is a release of 502 bottles with a RRP of £95 which you will find available from specialist online whisky retailers  such as The Whisky Exchange and Master of Malt

Oxford Rye Whisky Batch 1 Review

Producer's Tasting Notes:

Nose: Banana yogurt, flowery herbs, freshly baked bread, caramel, butter, clove, nutmeg and nuts.

Taste: Creamy banana bread, toasted sourdough, almonds and vanilla.

Finish: Praline with refreshing rye and warming spices (yin and yang).

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