England

Oxford Rye Whisky The Graduate

Oxford Rye Whisky 2017 Harvest Batch 4 The Graduate

Oxford Rye Whisky Batch #4 The Graduate Pack Shot

What they say

The Oxford Artisan Distillery has announced the release of The Graduate, the fourth batch of Oxford Rye Whisky and its largest bottling run to date.

Since the distillery launched their first batch of Oxford Rye Whisky back in April to great acclaim, each subsequent batch has been drawing praise for its quality of flavour. Supporting biodiversity through sustainable farming, the distillery only use heritage organic grains grown both close to Oxford and on prestigious estates such as Highgrove and Sandringham.

Officially launching at this year’s The Whisky Show, where the distillery are exhibiting for the first time, Oxford Rye Whisky Batch #4 has been bottled at the highest proof so far at 51.3% ABV and consists of 1,428 bottles. Harvested in 2017, the grain for this release was grown just 7 miles from the distillery, in soft sandy soils.

The distillery’s grain contributes to soil health in the English countryside, and are grown specifically for the distillery, making The Oxford Artisan Distillery the only distillery in the world with a license to use these heritage grains, farmed exclusively for flavour and not yield.

Oxford Rye Whisky Batch #4 is a bright, spicy and herbal whisky. Notes of sticky ginger cake, old books and ripe banana mingle with creamy custard, salty roasted nuts and toffee.

Master Distiller, Francisco Rosa comments: “For those who enjoyed our first whisky release, this is The Graduate. Similar in style but with older, bigger and bolder flavours and an acquired complexity.”

Consisting of six casks, (numbers 25, 27, 28, 31, 33 and 36), this batch has been matured in a variety of American oak casks, from several cooperages. The range of barrels, from different origins (and climates) to varying toast levels and sizes (both 130L and 225L), all aid the complexity of the final product.

Explaining how the distillery’s intricate production techniques create the whisky’s flavour profile, Francisco comments: “The grains bring herbal, floral, spicy and nutty notes, and the sandy soils they were grown in add a salty influence to the grain character. The fermentation in Hungarian oak vats brings fruit and boosts the lovely creamy notes. Our bespoke stills give espresso and toasted sourdough smokiness, and finally, it is the interaction with the casks, marrying all these flavour notes together, also adding sweetness, vanilla and toffee.”

Oxford Rye Whisky Batch #4 is priced at £95 and will launch at The Whisky Show at 5pm on Friday 1st October, and will then be available from specialist retailers including Master of Malt, Hedonism, The Whisky Exchange, The Whisky Shop and the distillery’s website from Saturday 2nd October.

At the end of August, the distillery launched a series of experimental whiskies titled Grain Stories, with the inaugural release of Heritage Corn Whisky. Distilled from diverse corn varieties grown in England especially for the distillery.

www.theoxfordartisandistillery.com

Tasting notes

  • Aroma: Refreshing spices to aniseed and pepper, a hint of flowers and mint, blackened banana and Bramley apple with candied ginger cake, yum yums and toasted almonds. The pleasant smell of old leather bring us the flavour of time and aging.
  • Palate: Hints of blackcurrant, salt, banana, creamy custard, dark-chocolate, chilli, black pepper and liquorice.
  • Finish: Creamy, silky, peppery and minty, hints of espresso and a lingering toasted sourdough smokiness.
  • Overall: Refreshing spices and herbs play with sweet ginger cakes and old books. Berries and ripe banana mingle with creamy custard, salty roasted nuts and toffee.  

What I say

The 4th batch of The Oxford Artisan Distillery’s 2017 Harvest Rye expressions features a larger cask selection generating 1,428 bottles at 51.3% ABV. And here’s to you, Mrs. Robinson.

  • ABV 51.3%
  • Age NAS
  • Bottler The Oxford Artisan Distillery
  • Bottling Batch 4
  • Cask American oak
  • Category Rye Whisky
  • Cost £95
  • Origin The Oxford Artisan Distillery
  • Outturn 1,428 bottles
  • Region England
  • Released 2021
  • Vintage 2017

My tasting notes

  • Appearance Amber gold (8/20), quick, large tears and tapered medium-fine legs.
  • Nose Sweet and mentholic, eucalyptus, quite medicinal, germolene, dry, spicy white pepper, herbal thyme, fruity apple, toasted flaked almond and a flinty minerality.
  • Taste Medium-light bodied, similar to the nose flinty and sweet, honey and masses of herbal thyme, caramel, vanilla, flinty and drier thereafter though some citrus lime or key lime pie develops later.
  • Finish Medium-long, buttery Murray mints, some more sharp mentholic peppermint, a touch of acidic orange juice too.
  • Overall Another solid Rye expression from TOAD, perhaps more of the Rye spice to the fore here – this didn’t feel as cask-complex as previous expressions and more raw spirit nature shines because of it.

Score 84/100

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