Origin: Isle of Jura (Scotland)
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Ageing casks: Ex-Bourbon, finished in ex-Premier Grand Cru Classé Bordeaux
Owner: Emperador Inc.
Average price: € 81.00
Official website: jurawhisky.com
It’s been a long time since I’ve tasted a Jura whisky, and given the less-than-stellar result, I wasn’t exactly itching to try something else.
Founded in 1810 by Archibald Campbell, a major landowner on the island, the distillery soon fell into disrepair, undergoing its (first) revival in 1884, before being closed down for good in 1910.
The fate of Jura was once again in the hands of landowners Robin Fletcher and Tony Riley-Smith, who, keen to get the local economy going, decided to revive the distillery, expanding its structure and taking advice from an expert in the field, William Delmé-Evans. Scottish & Newcastle Breweries reopened production in 1963, and it has remained in operation to this day, with several changes of hands until it is now owned by the Whyte and Mackay Group, part of the Philippine giant Emperador.
The distillery’s line was totally rethought a few years ago, and this 18-year-old expression is one of the few with declared ageing, surpassed only by the 21-year-old Tide.
There are, of course, several special editions reaching 28 years and two vintage ones from 1988 and 1989.
There are two versions of this 18 year old, the one that has entered the core range and the previous one for the airport shop market only: as I don’t foresee any major differences, I thought I’d combine them into one.
Will this whisky change my mind about the distillery?
Added coloring: Yes
Initially there is an unpleasant whiff of alcohol on the nose, which fades with a little aeration, bringing out the fruity aromas of pineapple, mango, candied orange and hazelnut. Caramel, nutmeg and milk chocolate chips complete the rather simple but pleasant bouquet. Woodiness in the background.
The palate reveals itself to be less rich than on the nose, with a strong presence of wood that slides over the tongue bringing with it a notable vinous astringency. Once the impact has been overcome, the fruity and sweet aspect of the whisky returns, albeit with an underlying bitterish note that quickly breaks the balance, and the alcohol content (albeit low) roars too much, and in the end you find yourself with a sweetish and bitterish mash that is not very well defined.
The finish is quite short, very dry, of hazelnuts and wood.
The aroma was not promising, but at least it made one think of an innocuous but pleasant drink, and instead one finds oneself with a mess that one does not quite understand where it came from, with that barrel of French wine fucked up a little, perhaps in a (failed) attempt to save what could be saved.
A reminder to those who think that the older a whisky is, the better it gets, to be summed up with “no fucking way”.
Added coloring: Yes
Sweet and fruity on the nose, with pineapple, candied orange, plums, hazelnuts, honey and vanilla. Generous dusting of nutmeg with a hint of cinnamon, lemony background note. Almost a sherried, the influence of wine barrels… not present.
The wine appears on the palate, especially at the mouth, with a certain astringency and hint of wood, not unpleasant. The harmonics are still those of the nose, in a warmer but less decisive tone, with hazelnuts and spices prevailing over the fruity side.
The finish is medium, of hazelnuts, wood, plums and candied orange.
It’s amazing how certain details change, even just a little, and it seems as if you’re drinking a completely different whisky!
Perhaps it’s thanks to the lower alcohol content, which has calibrated the alcohol better, but even though it’s not a very incisive dram, at least it remains pleasant.
The first Jura I didn’t find so bad…