Oxford Artisan Distillery Launches Its Second Batch Of Rye Whisky

By Gary Carter / July 23, 2021

The Oxford Artisan Distillery, the UK’s first certified organic grain-to-glass distillery, recently announced its second release of Oxford Rye Whisky.

The distillery produces 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 what’s said to be sustainability and biodiversity in their fields.

The inaugural batch of the distillery’s rye whisky released at the end of April and sold out on the day of its launch.

Oxford Rye Whisky Batch #2,

Oxford Rye Whisky Batch #2 (image via Oxford Artisan Distillery)

Oxford Rye Whisky Batch #2, bottled at 94.8 proof, shows off the the distillery’s Oxford Rye house-style that’s described by the brand as herbal and floral with butterscotch notes, nutty and spicy banana bread, and an elevated sweet wine flavor 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 is said to help bring the 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 said the goal of this rye whisky was to bring the consumer 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,” he noted in a prepared statement.

”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.”

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The Oxford Artisan Distillery uses populations of ancient heritage grains; sourced, revived and bulked up over many years and grown sustainably using methods dating back to the 19th century.

To create Batch#2, 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 traditional mill from the 1920s. The resulting course flakes were then made into an 8,000-liter watery porridge.

The distiller noted that spring fermentation, which delivered richer fruit characters compared with Batch #1’s winter fermentation, was undertaken in 5,000-liter Hungarian oak vats.

The porous oak helps the distillery to have a consistent and stable in-house fermenting culture, allowing microflora to give fruitier flavors 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 is now available from specialist retailers.

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

For more information, check out www.theoxfordartisandistillery.com. Official tasting notes are below.

  • Aroma: Aniseed and violets with an 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.