*** PRESS RELEASE FROM THE OXFORD ARTISAN DISTILLERY ****
THE OXFORD ARTISAN DISTILLERY ANNOUNCES INVESTMENT BY DIAGEO THROUGH DISTILL VENTURES
The Oxford Artisan Distillery, an ultra-premium English rye whisky producer seeking to revolutionise farming practices in the category, has announced that Diageo has made a minority investment in the company through Distill Ventures, the independent drinks accelerator devoted to building and scaling the drinks brands of the future.
Founded in 2016, The Oxford Artisan Distillery produces whisky using biodiverse populations of 'heritage' grains grown through an approach to grain farming known as Restorative Continuous Grain Cropping (R-CGC). These heritage grains and farming techniques have been developed in partnership with John Letts, a farmer and archaeobotanist with over 25 years’ experience, and an innovator in this field. The Oxford Artisan Distillery is the only distillery in the world with a license to use John’s grains, a proprietary mix of 30 to 100 different varieties grown exclusively for flavour and not yield.
The distillery’s first English rye whisky was released in April 2021, with a second batch available shortly after. To date, The Oxford Artisan Distillery has released a further nine batches of whisky and its distillery tour, just outside of Oxford, is rated one of the top things to do in the city on Tripadvisor. With ultra-premium whisky growing at 11% in the United Kingdom over the last five years, the brand’s vision is to grow a modern and scalable whisky brand centred on restorative agriculture, driven by their forward-thinking approach to sustainable farming.
The investment will support the next stage of the company’s growth by enabling the upgrade and expansion of its production sites, and the continued development of The Oxford Artisan Distillery brand and its consumer experiences.
Dave Smith, CEO of The Oxford Artisan Distillery, said: “Over the last few years we have seen the industry take major steps towards addressing the climate crisis, but we have a responsibility to do more in tackling sustainable farming and grain production. With Diageo and Distill Ventures’ support, we believe we can use whisky to further a revolution in the field. We have been blown away by the team’s belief in our mission and could not be happier to be entering the next stage of our journey with them alongside.”
Frank Lampen, Founder and CEO of Distill Ventures, said: "Grain is becoming an important part of how whisky producers are continuing to innovate and develop new styles and flavours, and the heritage grains used by Oxford Artisan Distillery together with their ground-breaking approach to farming in a sustainable way make this one of the most exciting distilleries in the English whisky scene, and we're delighted to be able to support them in their development."
Eugene Khabensky, Vice President of Global Ventures at Diageo, said: “We’re thrilled to welcome The Oxford Artisan Distillery into the Distill Ventures portfolio. Its ultra-premium positioning coupled with its commitment to put regenerative agriculture at the heart of what it does, fits perfectly with our strategy to support premium and environmentally responsible brands.”
As with all brands within the Distill Ventures portfolio, the founding Oxford Artisan Distillery team will retain majority ownership and control of the business.
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