OXFORD’S very own gin, vodka and whisky could be produced in the new year after plans for an ‘artisan distillery’ were approved.
A scheme to convert a vacant Oxford City Council depot - next to Cheney School - into a distillery was signed off by councillors on Tuesday night.
Tom Nicolson, director of The Oxford Artisan Distillery, said he was ‘relieved’ at the decision and revealed further plans for a visitor centre to conduct tours and a cafe were also in the pipeline.
A Grade-II listed thrashing barn will now be converted into a distillery and a new barn built for storage.
Mr Nicolson, said: “We are very relieved at the decision and are now looking forward to getting started.
“There has been a lot of support for the project and for what we are trying to do in the community.
“We hope to produce gin in the new year now but it’s not just gin - it will also make vodka and whisky.”
The spirits will be distributed to farmer’s markets in the area and other sellers with 10p from each bottle going to local mental health charity Response.
The rye distillery will use grain and pre-1940s methods to produce its alcohol, creating ten jobs in the process.
The site, next to South Park, had originally been earmarked by the council for housing but it was unable to shake off a number of historic covenants held by Oxford Preservation Trust.
The Trust agreed to lift the covenant banning the production of alcohol on the site and Oxford City Council’s director for housing and regeneration, David Edwards, said he was “satisfied” with the change of use.
Concerns that the location of the distillery - which won’t be selling alcohol - so close to one of Oxford’s largest secondary schools were quickly dismissed by the committee.
Councillor Colin Cook said: “Gin is not really an entry level drink for our fourteen-year-olds so I don’t think it’s going to be an issue.”