England

Oxford Rye Whisky Batch 3

Oxford Rye Whisky 2017 Harvest Batch 3

What they say

The 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.

Bringing out a completely different side to the grain, 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 has 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. Priced at £120, it is now available from specialist retailers including Master of Malt, Hedonism, The Whisky Exchange, The Whisky Shop and the distillery’s website. www.theoxfordartisandistillery.com     

Tasting notes

  • Aroma: 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.
  • Palate: Gummy bears, banana gum, honey, apricot, melon, white chocolate, nutmeg and oriental BBQ.
  • Finish: Butterscotch, tea tree, mint, muscovado sugar and smoke.
  • Overall: Candied and spicy, fresh rye vibes with stone fruits, fruity gums and vanilla ice cream.

What I say

The Oxford Artisan Distillery’s 2017 Harvest Rye Batch 3 has been matured using ex-Moscatel de Setubal sweet wine casks and released to celebrate the 4th anniversary of the distillery’s opening on 13th July 2017.

  • ABV 51.2%
  • Age NAS
  • Bottler The Oxford Artisan Distillery
  • Bottling Batch 3
  • Cask American Oak and Moscatel Casks
  • Category Rye Whisky
  • Cost £120
  • Origin The Oxford Artisan Distillery
  • Outturn 551 bottles
  • Region England
  • Released 2021
  • Vintage 2017

My tasting notes

  • Appearance Orange rose gold (11/20), quick, medium tears and medium legs.
  • Nose More herbal and floral, lavender, violets, spiced cinnamon and nutmeg, stone fruits, peach and apricot, wood smoke, bbq’d banana, rich bramble coulis – like cheesecake topping, foamy meringues, banana milkshake.
  • Taste Sweeter, medium-full bodied, banana toffee, butterscotch, creamy, some stone fruits, apricot, vanilla, mint, tea tree oil, woody oak, furniture polish, floral and sweet nutmeg and 5 spice powder.
  • Finish Long, sweet, Murray mints, eucalyptus and aniseed.
  • Overall A much sweeter expression than the previous batches, highlights the more herbal, floral and spiced nature of the Rye grains used. A touch minty in places but really the Rye spice is highlighted in the finish.

Score 83/100

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