Oxford University boasts 29 Nobel laureates, 27 Prime Ministers of the UK, and the Rhodes Scholarship. Now, the oldest institution of higher education in the English speaking world is adding another notch to their CV. Oxford just released their own gin label.
A collaboration with TOAD Distillery, “Physic Gin” is a proprietary product made from 25 botanicals grown in the school’s famed Botanical Gardens.
“This gin is medicinal – in a good way. Botanicals like wormwood, rue and sweet woodruff bring a deeply complex flavor to bear and take us back to the time when plants formed the base of all medicine,” explained Master Distiller Cory Mason. “Expect rich, earthy notes from this gin – like nothing you have tasted before.”
The Botanical Garden holds a storied place not just in botany, but in literature; J.R.R. Tolkien and Lewis Carroll both frequently sought solace amongst the fabled flora and fauna during their college years. Jacob Bobart the Elder started the garden in 1621. Bobart was a retired German mercenary who made his daily rounds accompanied by a pet goat. (Fun Fact: Bobart also owned a pub called The Greyhound.) By the time that he published a catalogue of the grounds in 1648, over 1600 different plants were included in the collection. TOAD opted for only a few including wormwood, Szechuan pepper, opium poppy seed, calamus root and gentian root.
Despite that impressive roster of botanicals, TOAD could not source all of their needs from Oxford. The required quantity of juniper berries was simply too much. And, then there was the grain. For this ingredient, the distillers turned to John Letts. Letts specializes in growing medieval strains of grain. The gin features hand-scythed, machine-threshed barley.
Currently, bottles are only available at local shops in Oxford.