In time for the festive season, The Oxford Artisan Distillery in the UK recently unveiled its fifth batch of Oxford Rye Whisky, called “Red Red Rye.”
This latest offering is a triple-matured rye whisky with a red wine influence. This red rye comes from the combination of heritage grains, virgin American oak casks, and three iconic sweet wine casks; a Pedro Ximenez butt and two Vintage Port barriques.
As with all Oxford Distillery products, responsible farming is said to be the first stage in the whisky-making process … regenerating the land and supporting biodiversity. The grain used for this batch was made up of multiple ancient heritage rye strains, wheat strains and a few oats and a few thistles grown together in healthy, diverse fields.
Red Red Rye (image via The Oxford Artisan Distillery)
Working with John Letts, head of Grain & Sustainable Development, all the grains are grown regeneratively and sustainably, using no pesticides or chemical fertilizers. In turn, this contributes to an abundance of wildflowers, insects and birds across the distillery’s farms.
Red Red Rye’s initial maturation was for one year in casks #12 and #13, both virgin American oak which gave the new make its house profile.
For the second maturation, both casks were blended into cask #72, a Pedro Ximenez butt, for two years to give it the depth of aged sweet wine.
For the final maturation, cask #72 was split into two Vintage Port barriques, casks #268 & #269, for a year to brighten the liquid. The result is whisky full of deep raisin character and sweet oxidized wine with tannic fruitiness, sweetness and body.
Oxford Master Distiller Francisco Rosa said in a prepared statement, “Some may say a Pedro Ximenez cask followed by a second maturation in Vintage Port is extravagant, or perhaps even excessive, but we argue it’s the perfect level of festive indulgence. Using extremely good quality old wine and new wine casks we have preserved the balance and structure between our house character and the wine influence.”
He said they have made a rye whisky with a viticultural personality. “Think violets and berry jam alongside toffee apples in a pine forest. I’d recommend sipping it by the fire, or after dinner paired with cheese – it also makes an excellent Manhattan.”
Oxford Rye Whisky Batch #5 clocks in at 46.4% ABV, and 610 bottles were produced, priced at £150. It’s now available directly from the distillery’s website or from specialist retailers including Master of Malt, Hedonism, The Whisky Exchange and The Whisky Shop.
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