- Founded: 2017
- Status: Operational
- Region: England, Old Depot, South Park, Cheney Ln, Headington, Oxford OX3 7QJ, Telephone: 01865 767918
- Online: theoxfordartisandistillery.com
From the moment the distillery was a twinkle in our eye, we knew it would be different. Not different for different’s sake, but different to be better; to be more sustainable, more thoughtful, more considerate of the world around us. With every step of the distilling process carried out with care – from harvesting genetically diverse ancient heritage grains to making our own grain neutral spirit, we knew our stills had to fit our ethos too.
We were never going to import a set of stills from a faraway land, and as still making in England is very rare, our best option was to commission them from scratch. And so began our collaboration with Paul Pridham and South Devon Railway Engineering, some of the last great historical industrial coppersmiths in England, famous for their refurbishment of the Flying Scotsman.
While we wanted our stills to be functional and to work brilliantly, we also wanted them to be exceptional in every way. So they had to make fantastic spirits, but they also had to be something to behold.
Taking cues from the best of distilling practice, the romance of steam, Victorian engineering, old diving helmets and imagery from Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, our two copper stills were born; Nautilus, our 2,400-litre still, and his 500-litre partner-in-crime, Nemo, weighing in at 940kg and 380kg respectively, together with two five metre tall, 40-plate copper distillation columns.
The Whiskyphiles tasting notes
- Heritage Corn Whisky (2021) - Quite light & vanillic a nice mixture of sweet and spiced from the grains without being overly oily/buttery. I'm relishing what this will be like with a little more time in the cask. 82/100
- New Make Rye Spirit 2019 Harvest (2021) - Very drinkable new make spirit when presented at 45% ABV.
- Oxford Rye Whisky Batch 1 (2021) - Delicious, not as spicy as anticipated, this is delivered with a lovely sweetness and plenty of cereal nature and is well textured on the palate. 85/100
- Oxford Rye Whisky Batch 2 (2021) - Quite fresh and minty, there is a definite red and black fruit nature contributed by the Port casks, this diminishes slightly the cereal nature I discovered in Batch 1 but reveals much more sweet fruit and butterscotch.
- Oxford Rye Whisky Batch 3 (2021) - 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.
- Oxford Rye Whisky Batch 4 The Graduate (2021) - 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. 84/100
- Oxford Rye Whisky Batch 5 Red Red Rye (2022) - Another rich and cereal led expression as I've come to expect from TOAD's Rye expressions. This is up there with the best of them (possibly Batch 1). The cask combination delivers ginger beer and jammy black fruits and of course that superb colour. I'm still not convinced about the pricing of this expression though there are certainly no complaints about what is inside the bottle. 85/100