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Oxford Artisan Distillery rebrands and moves to Yorkshire

The Oxford Artisan Distillery has rebranded to Fielden Whisky of England and will shift production to a new site in Yorkshire.

Fielden Whisky (formerly Oxford Artisan)
Fielden Whisky has planted 2,100 acres of centuries-old grain across 15 farms in England

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).

The company secured a minority investment through Diageo drinks accelerator Distill Ventures in November 2022, which was to be used for upgrading and expanding the company’s production.

However, the distillery in Oxford has been decommissioned and production will be moved to a new facility currently in development in Yorkshire, Mark Harvey, Fielden’s managing director of sales and marketing, confirmed.

The decision to relocate to Yorkshire was due to “outgrowing the site” in Oxford, Harvey explained. “Our ability to scale was unlocked with the Distill Ventures investment back in 2022.”

Fielden takes its name from an Old English word meaning ‘of the field’. The brand uses traditional farming techniques and heritage grains from centuries ago, and works without any chemicals or tillage.

The company has recently planted 2,100 acres of heritage grain across 15 farms stretching from Cornwall to Norfolk.

“We really want to grow this farming movement,” said Harvey, who joined the business from English winemaker Chapel Down in early 2023 to work on the Fielden project. “It was clear to us that we needed to be really clear in the brand and communicate the benefits of this way of farming in a really straightforward way.”

Production capacity will increase from 30,000 litres of pure alcohol per year at the Oxford distillery to 450,000 litres annually at the Yorkshire site.

Currently, whisky is being produced through a third party. The new distillery is set to open in Goole, Yorkshire, in September this year.

Debut release

To coincide with the rebrand, the company has revealed its first core whisky, Fielden Rye Whisky.

The expression comprises 90% maslin (a mix of rye and wheat that varies field by field) and 10% malted barley. Double-distilled in both pot and column stills, the liquid was matured in American oak casks and a selection of ex-wine casks.

Fielden has also secured a UK distribution deal with Berry Bros & Rudd. A programme of launches is planned in key export markets in the coming months.

Fielden Rye (48% ABV) is available to purchase from the company’s new website for £60 (US$76).

The name and bottle design “put the consumer straight into the home of heritage grain, in the field”. The design conveys the benefits of farming for biodiversity and wildlife, Harvey added.

The new distillery will not have a visitor experience for now, but the hope is to take some guests into the fields to showcase the heritage grains. The company will host events in the fields, including around Lammas Day on 1 August, which marks the start of the wheat harvest.

Harvey confirmed that the focus of Fielden will be on whisky, and the site will not produce gin or vodka as The Oxford Artisan Distillery had previously done. However, its Oxford Botanic Garden – Physic Gin and Asmoleon Dry Gin will instead be made at Wood Brothers Distillery in Oxfordshire.

Yearly releases are also planned to coincide with Lammas Day. “We will do an annual release of a harvest-specific whisky. For Lammas Day 2024, we’ll release a harvest 2019 whisky,” Harvey said. “At the top end, we’ll have a series of limited edition releases and those will be available from October this year.”

Whisky from the new distillery will not be released for another four years, he confirmed.

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