What do Oxford and Bombay Sapphire have in common?

Oxford now has its own official gin. Source: Shutterstock

Both names are now associated with gin.

Yes, the distilled spirit made from juniper berries, the significant half in the classic cocktail Gin & Tonic, the one that Britain used to be obsessed with (and is reportedly making a comeback, too).

Thanks to a collaboration between Prof Simon Hiscock and the Oxford Artisan Distillery, the premier higher education institution now has an official gin to its name, the “Physics Gin”.

“I was so impressed by the integrity and passion behind The Oxford Artisan Distillery (TOAD); it makes perfect sense for Oxford Botanic Garden to align itself with Oxford’s first distillery,”  said Hiscock, who is director of Oxford’s Botanic Garden.

“I’m looking forward to making spirits inspired by our historical collections and having some botanical fun along the way.”

“This gin is medicinal – in a good way,” said master distiller Cory Mason.

“Botanicals like wormwood, rue and sweet woodruff bring a deeply complex flavour to bear and take us back to the time when plants formed the base of all medicine. Expect rich, earthy notes from this gin – like nothing you have tasted before,” Mason said.

Distilled from barley grains grown by medieval farmers, the concoction has flavours from 25 different botanicals, the very same first planted after the institution’s famous Botanic Garden founded in 1621.

“Most distilleries don’t make their spirits from scratch,” Hiscock said, as reported by The Guardian.

“Using these ancient grains is improving biodiversity and that’s an issue close to our hearts.”

While other distillers source their alcohol, i.e. the grain neutral spirit, from external sources, Oxford’s official gin is distilled from the barley grown by one “archaeological botanist” named John Letts, according to Tom Nicolson at the distillery.

Nicolson, who is responsible for the grains, explained that Letts has managed to collect gains from as far back as from the 1200s.

“They grow five or six feet tall, so they grow higher than the weeds and form a canopy of grain over the weeds,” he said.

The fields contain about 250 varieties of grain, Nicolson said, which creates a natural defence against drought and pests: “Nothing affects the whole crop.”

The Drinks Business noted that the spirit will be the first of its kind to be produced by the distillery for Oxford under a 25-year licence.

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