University students might be accustomed to pairing their education with a few alcoholic beverages; however most don't expect their tertiary institution to have its own tipple. That rings particularly true when one of the most famous and prestigious universities in the world is involved — but, as well as teaching bright minds, Oxford University is bursting boundaries.
The British uni has just added an official brand of gin to its list of achievements: Physic Gin, aka an especially aptly named juniper spirit. It's a product of The Oxford Artisan Distillery (TOAD), which is located in the same city, but is separate from the university. With their collaboration — the result of one of TOAD's distillers meeting one of Oxford's botany professors — they've created the first gin made for the university and bearing its name.
Branding isn't Physic Gin's only Oxford connection. It's also flavoured using plants from the uni's botanic garden. Founded in 1621 to help teach herbal medicine, the patch of greenery in question is the oldest of its kind in the country. In total, 25 botanicals grown and foraged in Oxford's garden are used in the tipple, most of which were listed in a catalogue kept by its first keeper back in the 1640s.
According to TOAD master distiller Cory Mason, anyone keen on a sip should expect a rich, earthy taste thanks to ingredients such as wormwood, rue and sweet woodruff — which "bring a deeply complex flavour to bear and take us back to the time when plants formed the base of all medicine." TOAD also use ancient, organic, super-sustainable grains in their production of Physic Gin, plus their original Oxford Dry Gin and Oxford Rye Vodka.