Oxford Rye Whisky nutty and spicy

If your looking for a new kind of whisky which is smooth, nutty and spicy then I highly recommend Oxford Rye. What makes Oxford Rye’s special compared to other whisky’s is that their whisky is distilled using an ancient heritage rye, a crop which used to be commonly cultivated across the English countryside in pre-industrial times. Did you know to qualify as a pure rye spirit and not a rye whisky, a liquid must be under three years old, which Oxford Rye is.

I was gifted a bottle courtesy from The Oxford Artisan Distillery on a press related basis to sample their Oxford Rye whisky and I discovered not only is it great as a drink but works well within bakes.

The Oxford Artisan Distillery

In 1994 John Letts discovered over 200 almost perfectly preserved examples of traditional wheat and rye landraces in the bottom layers of thatched buildings dating from the late Medieval period (1375-1550 AD). His work showed that, in spite of poor soils, these ancient crops grew to over 1.5 metres tall and that if these fields had been manured crops it would have grown much taller and fallen over in the wind and rain, ruining the harvest.

Today, his fields are monocultures of uniform dwarf wheat varieties that are only a third of the height of older heritage lines, which can be seen in artwork from earlier centuries. The tall stems of older cereals are matched by their much larger root systems, which allows them to absorb moisture and nutrients from deep below the soil surface. This means they are better at surviving drought, but will also grow very tall and fall over if grown with fertilisers or in rich soil.

They produce whisky, gin and vodka.

Oxford Rye ABV 40%

Press photo

Oxford Rye is a unique spirit distilled from ancient heritage rye – a crop that used to be commonly cultivated across the English countryside in pre-industrial times. To qualify as a pure ‘rye spirit’ and not be a ‘rye whisky’, a liquid must be under three years old, which is the case here.

Described as ‘liquid rye’, this delicate and golden-coloured spirit is the purest expression of The Oxford Artisan Distillery’s use of such grains.

Twice distilled and then rested in American oak barrels to bring out its best characteristics, Oxford Rye has an intoxicating aroma of sandalwood and vanilla, with nutty and spicy notes on the palate.

Uniquely, each year the actual flavour of Oxford Rye varies – due to the distillery’s farming practices and subject to the natural, unforced, evolution of the grains.

Oxford Rye is one of a range of spirits produced by the firm, which is one of Britain’s very few ‘grain-to-glass’ distilleries (those who grow and distil their own grain, as opposed to buying in neutral spirit). It’s also unique in being the only one in Britain to use ancient heritage grains that had commonly been used until the late 19th century.

Now resurrected by the distillery, these grains are grown in vibrant, genetically diverse, fields, mostly within 50 miles of Oxford – employing a super-sustainable practice known as ‘regenerative’ farming, which is a step on from simply being organic. No pesticides or herbicides are used and the distillery’s farmers embrace ancient, gentler, methods of land management – such as using clover to suppress weeds and sequester carbon, while avoiding the destructive effect of ploughing a field.

By working naturally with the land and soil, biodiversity is massively boosted, contributing to an abundance of wildflowers, insects and birds across all the fields. As a result, the distillery’s spirits have a well-deserved reputation for purity and taste.

In addition to these practices, Oxford Rye is mashed, fermented, distilled and matured in such a delicate way that allows the grains’ nuances to shine through.

Taste of pure whisky

Whisky is a very grown up drink but the beauty about Oxford Rye whisky is that it is so pure and distilled in an ancient way making it different from other whisky.

It’s perfect drank neat, with or without ice or as a long drink, with ginger ale, a splash of Angostura bitters & a squeeze of lime.

Oxford Rye uses pure rye spirit as it uses grains which have are harvested, twice distilled and then rested in American Oak to bring out its best characteristics which gives an intoxicating aroma of sandalwood and vanilla. On the palate its smooth and provides a delicate flavour of caramel, nuts and spice.

However I discovered it also works beautifully within desserts so I got a little creative and added to my Carrot Cake and Doughnuts.

Whisky Carrot Cake 

  • 250ml sunflower oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 225g brown sugar
  • 200g carrots, peeled and grated
  • 300g self-raising flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground mixed spice
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 75g chopped walnuts


  • 80g flour
  • 60g brown sugar
  • 15g oats
  • 1 tbsp desiccated coconut
  • 60g unsalted butter
  • 60g golden syrup

Whisky sauce

  • 115g butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 100ml whisky
  • 400ml double cream

Cream Cheese

  • 1000kg cream cheese
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C
  2. Grease and line two deep 8 inch cake tins
  3. Mix all ingredients together
  4. Spoon the mixture evenly between the tins
  5. Place in the oven and bake for around 35 mins until golden
  6. Cool on a wire rack
  7. For the crumble combine the dry ingredients with 1/2 tsp salt
  8. Chop the butter and add to the dry mixture
  9. Use your fingers to rub together
  10. Combine golden syrup and spread on a lined baking tray
  11. Bake for around 15 mins until golden
  12. Remove from oven and cool
  13. Then break up to look like crumble
  14. For the whisky sauce place butter in saucepan over medium heat and cook until browned
  15. Add sugar, whisky and cream
  16. Stir until smooth and thickened
  17. Stir in 1 tsp salt
  18. Transfer 240g whisky sauce into a bowl & chill
  19. Put the remaining whisky sauce to the side 
  20. When ready to assemble cake place cream cheese in a bowl and beat until smooth
  21. Add the chilled whisky sauce and beat to combine
  22. Half the two carrot cakes and place bottom layer onto a plate and drizzle with the whisky sauce
  23. Spread quarter of the cream mix over first layer
  24. Scatter with a layer of crumble and drizzle over more whisky sauce
  25. Place next layer and repeat
  26. Serve with the remaining whisky sauce

This very grown up carrot cake was moist and delicious, giving a hit of whisky after each bite.

Whisky Glazed Doughnut (makes 6)


  • 120g plain flour
  • 70g granulated sugar
  • 1 tspn baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 28 g unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 egg
  • 100ml milk
  • 1 tspn vanilla extract


  • 50ml milk plus extra for brushing 
  • 100g dark chocolate 
  • 2 tbsp whisky 
  • 70g caster sugar 
  • 1 tspn ground cinnamon 
  • Chopped almonds 
  • Chocolate shavings 
  1. Pre heat oven to 180C
  2. Mix together all the dry ingredients
  3. Combine gently the wet ingredients into the dried ingredients
  4. Pour into greased a doughnut mould (makes 6)
  5. Pop into oven for 10-14 minutes
  6. Cool on a wire rack
  7. For glaze combine milk, chocolate, whisky and 1 tbsp sugar into a heat proof bowl set over a pan on simmering water
  8. Stir until melted then take of heat 
  9. Combine cinnamon and remaining sugar 
  10. Brush cooled doughnuts with milk 
  11. Dip into sugar mix 
  12. Top with chocolate glaze 
  13. Sprinkle with almonds and chocolate shavings

These doughnuts were yummy. The hit of chocolate with whisky made them very moorish and very adult.


Rating: 5 out of 5.

A great tasting whisky which provides a greet sweet taste with that hit of spice. Perfect for a naughty nights tipple but also works beautifully within bakes.

So if you are looking for a luxury whisky I highly recommend Oxford Rye whisky.

The Oxford Rye Distillery

Still On The Hill Ltd is c/o Wellers
8 King Edward Street

Phone: 01865 767918
Email: info@theoxfordartisandistillery.com

Oxford Rye whisky buy now*

Discover all their drinks click here

Thank you to The Oxford Rye Distiller for the Oxford Rye whisky. All views are my own honest opinion.

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