The Oxford Artisan Distillery: Oxford Rye


This is an interesting project. It’s based on a grain harvest of 2017, with several different grains growing together in the same field, including multiple ancient heritage rye strains, wheat strains and even a few oats and thistles. The spirit was fermented for a long time in Hungarian oak, and then matured in American oak casks.

Whisky making was a thing in England back in the 19th Century, but died out in 1905. It began again this century, and now – according to whisky expert Becky Paskin – England has more than 25 whisky producers. The Oxford Artisan Distillery is the only whisky producer worldwide to be working with heritage grains.

Oxford Artisan Distillery Rye Whisky
46.2% alcohol
This is primary, quite raw, and intense. There’s marmalade and toffee, as well as some sweet vanilla and some fine woody, spicy notes. It has an ease and a warmth to it, with a soft coconut character on the finish. There’s a lot to like here, with savoury iodine and spice notes on the finish, as well as notes of pine and cedar. 8/10

Oxford Artisan Distillery New Make Rye Spirit
45% alcohol, 2019 harvest.
Intriguing aromatics of aniseed, green herbs and apple. The palate is warm, rounded and really distinctive, with a soft, smooth herb, fennel and textured pear fruit. It’s rich, smooth, intense and delicious, with some real purity. Even at this young age, it’s really soft, smooth, complex and beautiful. 8/10