At the top of Trip Advisor’s list of ‘Things to Do in Oxfordshire’, The Oxford Artisan Distillery, or TOAD as it’s affectionately known is a totally unique gin, vodka and rye spirit gold-mine. (Exclusive… The first true TOAD whisky is being launched this December)!
Hilary met Jane Scotchbrook (sales and events) of TOAD, at the online launch of Sterling Networking’s breakfast at Oxford City Football Club. Soon after they had a Zoom chat to learn more about each others’ businesses and how they could help one another.
Jane very adeptly described exactly why The Oxford Artisan Distillery is so incredible
The distillery is ‘grain to glass’, which means the grain starts life on a local farm, is harvested, then milled as it makes its way to the Oxford site, where the skilled in-house distillers produce the unique spirits. Once there the production process continues through to bottling, tasting and selling. Of all the gin companies in the UK, there are only 11 that can call themselves grain to glass…
However, what makes TOAD even more special is that they are proud owners of organic certification, which makes them utterly unique in that they are the only grain to glass distillery in the UK to hold this certificate. But it doesn’t stop there…
Not only is the rye, wheat and barleygrain organic and entirely processed on site, but they are ‘heritage’ grains, discovered some time ago by a local archaeobotanist (we didn’t know that was a thing either), that had been grown in the 1500’s. And where was it discovered? In the thatch of Cotswold dwellings of course.
The TOAD grains are cultivated on 4 farms in the UK, all within 50 miles from the distillery, meaning the miles are kept to a minimum and their environmental credentials can be kept close to their heart. And that’s just the grains, wait until you hear about the still itself.
The most incredible stills
The iconic stills at TOAD were custom built by South Devon Railway Engineering, a company of skilled steam engine craftsmen and industrial coppersmiths.
‘We wanted to design and build our own stills with the help of artisans and engineers who share the Oxford Artisan Distillery’s ideals on craft and total provenance.’
Inspiration was taken from Jules Verne’s 20,000 leagues under the sea and Victorian engineering styles, which resulted in the incredibly beautiful things, aptly named Nautilus and Nemo, you see below. Interestingly, there had been no entirely new stills produced in the UK for 150 years.
Jane explained that there are no specific tour guides for this unique experience, for every person in the company performs many roles and therefore has a knowledge and passion for the craft and engineering, meaning anyone can give visitors a detailed insight into the spirit of TOAD. This brings unique perspectives from people throughout the company who all have their own stories to share.
Hilary (a whisky buff), has booked a pair of tickets to take her father on her birthday this year. She was assured that in light of ‘you-know-what’, any necessary postponements would be honoured until a time when the Covid-19 risk is significantly low enough for tours to recommence. However, tours are currently being run implementing Covid-secure measures as laid out for events of this nature, and they provide WHO (World Health Organisation) standard hand sanitiser, made in their very own stills, which has also been distributed to locals in need and NHS services free of charge.
Hilary is very much looking forward to following the grains’ journey from seed to still (and lingering in the shop afterwards).
To book your tour and discover this incredible distillery yourself, visit The Oxford Artisan Distillery website, where you will also find an online shop.
If you would like to connect with Jane to ask about selling TOAD products in your pub or restaurant, or feel you can support the distillery by making a corporate donation towards the production of hand sanitiser, get in touch with Hilary on firstname.lastname@example.org and ask for an introduction.Posted on