Craft Whisky Spotlight
Oxford Artisan Distillery
Neighbours with the historic University of Oxford, this small distillery crafts English whisky, gin and vodka. Opened in 2017, their premises also constitutes a shop and a seasonal bar garden. The Oxford Artisan Distillery are the only only distillery in the world to use populations of ancient heritage grains to produce their range of spirits, bringing forth exceptional flavours: a signature maltiness with caramel undertones. They are also committed to sustainability: their method, which was founded through a partnership with Oxford-based archaeobotanist John Letts, encourages biodiversity within their farms.
Their expressions are filtered through two stills, which were made by renowned historical coppersmith Paul Pridham - famous for the renovation of The Flying Scotsman. After taking inspiration from Victorian engineering, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and the best of distilling practice, their stills were crafted and named Nautilus and Nemo. From a whisky perspective, their drams are experimental and carefully crafted, all released in limited edition small batches. Often made from rye, their 'Oxford Rye' is their best-selling and most eagerly anticipated.
The Loch Fyne
Loch Fyne Whiskies is a shop located in the quiet town of Inverary, an Aladdin's cave of whisky on the banks of Loch Fyne. Starting up through one man's passion for whisky, Loch Fyne Whiskies has progressed from a passion project to a first-rate blending house in its own right. From tasty liqueurs, to expertly blended malt Scotch, this award-winning brand has, like its own malts, been getting better with age.
Produced with customer feedback in mind, The Loch Fyne range set out to give the people what they want in their whiskies. In an award winning experiment, they invented their own 'Living Cask'. Having been described in Notes on a Cellar in 1920 by Professor George Saintsbury, it is an old method of drinking a mix of whiskies from a cask that is constantly topped up and never emptied. By carefully selecting an ex-bourbon cask with tight staves and good heritage, they took inspiration from this practice and created a marriage of ‘the best’ Islay single malts, according to Loch Fyne. The tradition has continued, with each iteration is as collectable and intriguing as the last.
Finland-based Kyrö was conceived by five friends doing as the Finnish do - drinking in a sauna. They wondered why no one was distilling rye whisky in Finland, when it tasted so good. The distillery was built in 2012 within an old dairy in the peculiar village of Isokyrö, and they set out on their mission. While waiting for their creation to mature, they decided to make a Kyrö gin too. To their surprise, it happened to be selected as the best gin for a gin & tonic by IWSC in 2015, and they sold out of it in two days.
They also endevor to be as sustainable as possible, using biogas for energy, which is produced from manure and waste. At the moment, 99.9% of the energy in the distillery and visitor centre is created through renewable energy sources. Their greatest achievement is their flagship single malt whisky, made from 100% Finnish wholegrain rye. The core range features Kyrö Malt, peppery with vanilla and caramel, and Kyrö Wood Smoke, with their classic flavours lifted by crisp alder smoke.
This English distillery is situated in the rolling hills of the Cotswalds countryside, and produces whisky, gin and cream liqueurs. When their founder (native New-Yorker Dan Szor) moved to the area for a bit of peace and quiet, he spotted the untouched barley fields around his house and had a brilliant idea. Cotswalds Distillery was devised as the first producer of single malt whisky made with lush Costwald barley.
After consulting with legend Harry Cockburn, former Distillery Manager at Bowmore, and Dr Jim Swan, known as ‘the Einstein of whisky’ for his vast knowledge of the science of distillation and maturation, Costwalds whisky was released in 2017. It was the first expression ever to be produced in the picturesque corner of the world.
Dingle Distillery is located in the charming town of Dingle, County Kerry in Ireland and was built within a converted Fitzgerald sawmill. Founded ten years ago as a part of the Irish whiskey industry's very welcome resurgence, they produce Irish whiskey, vodka and gin. In 2017, they were the first independent Irish distillery to release a single pot still whiskey in several decades, made in a bespoke copper pot still designed by Scottish whisky legend, John McDougall. The dram is matured through their unique micro climate, and bottled by hand.
Their 'Descendants' programme allows for patrons to purchase a cask for their 2022 edition, in which their triple distilled spirit can be matured in either Bourbon, Pedro Ximenez Sherry, or Palo Cortado casks: chosen at the descendant's leisure. It will be bottled in eight years, or chosen to continue its complex maturation in their warehouse.
To explore more artisan spirits: see here.