After touching upon the official releases of Jura distillery in July’s Review of the excellent Isle of Jura 1988 Archives label, it’s about time we get around to tasting one. Things have changed for the standard 10 year old in recent years, progressing from being the butt of many a whisky-snob joke to one of the best-selling single malts in the U.K. Some of this must surely be down to its notable presence on supermarket shelves, but not all. The quality has risen markedly in recent batches, and while it still hasn’t shaken away all negative associations, it’s gaining in credibility as a result.
That aside, things do still remain hazy for Jura if it is to be a brand aimed at serious whisky lovers. It’s a common theme with the distilleries owned and marketed by Whyte and Mackay; colouring, chill-filtration, low bottling strengths, they all serve to put off those who prefer their whisky a little more natural. In my experience Jura is at its best when allowed greater time in the wood, so let us start with the Jura 16 year old, perhaps the distillery’s unusual, beguiling character will shine in-spite of the aforementioned curtailments.
The island of Jura is a place of deep beauty, feeling far more remote and isolated than its neighbouring Islay and where this Island of peat is home to eight celebrated distilleries Jura boasts only one. It is a significant one in the U.K market though and, in its 10 year old form, is a staple among widely available supermarket malts. However, even with this undoubted success and some peated releases to draw extra interest, Jura whisky remains quite unloved beyond casual whisky drinkers.
The quality of the standard range has risen markedly in recent years, yet only the older official bottlings and interesting examples from the Independents pique the interest of many. Personally I can understand some of the misgivings associated with the Jura 10 year old, but have tasted a few beautiful old Jura’s in the past and feel the distillery often gets rather unfairly overlooked. This is where quality cask selection comes in of course and, having spoken about the Jura Archive bottlings before, we can pour this one with quite some optimism.