Botanic Gardens

Does it get better than a gin distillery, botanic garden + cherry blossom cocktails in one afternoon?!

Meet Rosie + Anna! These guys run Independent Oxford, a directory + membership service championing the Indie businesses in and around Oxford.

Together with Visit England they organised an InstaMeet in Oxford to promote English Tourism Week. One of many MicroGaps going on in the country that weekend. I was lucky enough to get one of the 20 tickets to visit the Oxford Botanic Garden and The Oxford Artisan Distillery, my idea of total heaven - gin, botanical gardens & cherry blossom cocktails!!!

First stop was the Botanic Gardens to see where the guys at TOAD forage some of the 25 botanicals used in their Physic gin. The gardens are the oldest botanic gardens in the UK, so extra special!


Walking through the park to the distillery was a great chance to chat to some of the other Instagrammers & take a look back over the famous spires of Oxford.

Next up a tour of the distillery by the MD and one of the co-founders Tagore Ramoutar. Everyone we came across at TOAD was so passionate about their product and the unique story behind what they do, especially Tagore!

They make everything from scratch, they pride themselves on being the only distiller that produces from grain to glass. They plant their own fields with sustainably grown, organic heritage grains, they make their own neutral, & they even make their own stills (designed by the engineer behind The Flying Scotsman)!

Cory Mason, another of the co-founders and the Master Distiller behind TOAD & Silent Pool gin gave us a cocktail masterclass. I practically went into orbit when Cory started telling us about the inspiration behind the Ashmolean gin they make especially for the Ashmolean Museum. As he says every gin tells a story, and as a master storyteller as well as distiller, I highly recommend anything that this guy makes!

Every gin tells a story

Speaking to the curators and walking around the museum, Californian born, Cory started to get inspired as to where the original art collections came from. “So you have Persia, Middle East, you’ve got Northern Africa, you have Asian, Greek and Roman. So when you take the areas and you start looking at the botanicals that are important to those areas culturally, that was the starting point then for the gin itself. So things like saffron, rose, we have really interesting Middle Eastern citrus, we have mastic from Greece, we’ve got honey from Greece as well, we’ve got European juniper, English coriander. So really taking all these things, much like the museum did, as I say museums are often “where we went, the stuff we took from the people we saw”. These are just some of the 17 botanicals that go into the Ashmolean gin. Others include jasmine green tea, honey, rose petals, orris root & myrrh. Just how cool is that?!

It really was my lucky day as Cory had just created a cherry blossom gin, who am I kidding I think I died and went to heaven, two of my most favourite things on earth!! So we then got an amazing masterclass from Cory. I was even more honoured when I found out that he never gives masterclasses at the distillery. His passion for distilling and the inspiration behind his amazing creations is totally infectious!

You can book a tour at TOAD yourself and I highly recommend it, not least because you get to taste test their spirits. They are a really nice, genuine & incredibly passionate and inspiring bunch of people!