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It was grain – organically grown, ancient populations of heritage grain to be precise – that provided the seed for the Oxford Artisan Distillery. Perhaps not the sexiest of starting points for a spirit brand launched by Tom Nicholson, The Oxford Artisan Distillery’s Founder who said goodbye to a successful career in the music industry, but one we’re incredibly grateful for.

Captivated by the thought of establishing Oxford’s first craft distillery, Tom combined family roots in the wine and spirits industry and a passion for the ideals of British excellence with the skills of Californian-board Cory Mason, Master Distiller and Barman, who he met in 2013. Together they concocted a brand, previously known as TOAD and launched in 2017, that encourages us to challenge expectations of spirits, starting with what we all-too-readily overlook when it comes to our choice of tipple: ingredients. They placed the motto “from grain to glass” at their business’ heart, partnering with pioneering farmer and archaeobotanist, John Letts, to produce spirits using exclusively organically grown, heritage grains sourced from four local farms. This motto has shaped their company’s purpose. As of 2020, they’re certified organic, the UK’s first certified organic grain-to-glass distillery, and the only distillery in the world using ancient heritage grain to produce their full range of spirits. OK, that’s pretty sexy.

 

With an aim to be different, more sustainable, and considerate of the world around us, The Oxford Artisan Distillery maintains its philosophy within the distillery walls. To avoid importing stills from across the globe (still making in the UK is very rare), they commissioned some from scratch – taking cues from the best of distilling practice, the romance of steam, old diving helmets and imagery from Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, of course. While their stills (Nautilus and Nemo) are worth a visit, their spirits are even more worthy of a taste. The Oxford Artisan Distillery gin is as captivating as its story – Juniper-led, bold, and bursting with bitter orange, lemon peel, nutmeg and meadowsweet, while the Oxford Artisan Distillery Vodka can convert even the wariest consumers, with a smooth body, beautiful butterscotch and hints of spiced caramel that will rock your world – on the rocks, shaken or stirred. 

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