The UK’s Oxford Artisan Distillery recently launched the latest batch of its Oxford Rye Whisky, finished in an old port cask.
Called “The Tawny Pipe,” this rye whisky is finished in a single, 30-year-old tawny Port pipe. It’s the oldest whisky to be bottled by the distillery so far, and the distiller notes that it features a combination of sweet and savory notes, showing the interaction between the distillery’s sustainably-farmed heritage grains and the single port cask.
Previous batches of Oxford Rye Whisky were made from heritage grain harvested in 2017, the year the distillery first went into production. This latest batch is from the last grain harvest of that year, grown on a single farm, in Sandy Lane, Oxford.
This rye whisky has a mash bill of 90% maslin and 10% malted barley. Maslin is a mixed crop of rye and wheat with a ratio of 70:20:10 rye, wheat and barley.
Fermentation for this whisky was in oak vats before being double distilled, then the liquid spent nearly two years in new American oak before being transferred to a single Tawny Port Pipe (cask #114) for two years and nine months.
The former port cask had previously spent 30 years in the port industry.
Oxford’s Master Distiller Francisco Rosa said, “Through a long standing relationship with Portuguese coopers and winemakers, I was very lucky to be able to obtain a cask of this age and quality. Tawny pipes are the oldest casks being used in Port, so the wine has had decades to soak deep into the wood and leave its character; they are full of big oxidized sweet Port flavors.”
The distiller said this batch of whisky was fully matured in their stillhouse, exposed to the variations in Oxford’s climate.
“We only have around 40 casks on site all the time as we are one of the tiniest whisky distilleries,” Rosa said. “The casks are literally stacked by the stills, fermenters and mash tun, they are exposed to the day-to-day life of the distillery and its environment. The door is always open during working hours, so the ‘place factor’ is enhanced.”
Rosa said the character of the tawny Port complements the nuttiness of the rye, lifting up the sweet and savory notes with flavors of crème brulée, raspberries, treacle and prunes.
Oxford Rye Whisky The Tawny Pipe is bottled at 56% ABV and has a suggested retail price of £95.00. As of now, 587 bottles are exclusively available through Master of Malt and Master of Malt Trade.
For more information, check out www.theoxfordartisandistillery.com.