A recent article in The Guardian on the uprising of craft distilleries reminded me that we recently had the opportunity to visit Oxford’s very own craft distillery, located at the top of leafy South Park. If you don’t already know the story of TOAD, they are the first artisan distillery in Oxford, creating a range of spirits including gin, absinthe, vodka and rye whiskey.
I first got to try TOAD at a Pint Shop gin tasting, which is a fantastic event and if you like gin in any way, do go to one! Tom Nicholson, CEO and an Oxford boy, was there to talk us through the flavours and how TOAD came about. It’s a story worth going to the distillery itself to hear – the way the team discovered the ancient grains used to produce the base spirit is fascinating. Then the development of the distillery itself is one of those chance chats to someone who knows someone you should talk to, so on and so forth until you end up with a team of people who may otherwise never have met.
Those people include Cory Mason, an American infamous for his New York speakeasy and bootleg absinthe who is now the Master Distiller at TOAD, John Letts, the environmental archaeologist who discovered and started growing the ancient grains and Paul Pridham, designer and builder of the stunning copper stills used to distil TOAD’s spirits. Paul is a steam boiler specialist and was responsible for the restoration of the Flying Scotsman’s boiler. Building Nautilus and Nemo, the two stills, was an entirely new challenge that he relished.
Locating the new distillery in a 18th-century threshing barn has a poetic symmetry to it, by allowing a neglected building to come back to life for a career not too far removed from its original use. You can visit the distillery Monday to Saturday at 11am and 1pm, Sundays 2pm and 4pm on a 45-minute tour that costs £20 per person or for something really special do the Founders Tour on a Saturday at 3pm where you’ll get the tour and a very good tasting session for £50. Just remember to take the bus or book a taxi! Booking details are on the TOAD website.
Alternatively, you can win tickets from us…..
Simply tell us in the comments section below who you would take and why you want to go. Best two answers win a pair of tour tickets each.
The competition closes in one week, at midnight on 26th October, with prize winners notified in the comments section. Good luck!
We had some brilliant comments in response to the giveaway, but our favourites who will be each winning two tickets to tour TOAD were:
Adil – “I’d take my wife, it would be a get out of jail for HER not getting me an anniversary present!!”
Michelle – “Would love to go with my hubby! Basically so we can escape from our two adorable monsters for a while and have some us time!! oh and try some amazing gin!”
Both very familiar situations and hopefully the tickets will help! Congratulations both 😀