Crikey. Turns out this will be the first Jura review on The Dramble. That’s honestly a little embarrassing after all these years – but then, looking down our corpus of distilleries, there’s still a small number of Scotch producers we’ve not yet turned to. You can’t do everything. Which leads to the obvious question – “Have you been deliberately avoiding Jura Matt?” The answer being – “kinda.”
A Jura (think it was an early 2000s 10 year old, but don’t quote me on that – memory is a fickle thing) was amongst the earliest bottles I sampled when I started my whisky journey. I didn’t like it. And over the years, whilst I’ve certainly not made a concerted beeline to the distillery, I have nevertheless bought a reasonable number of bottles and sampled a fairly broad selection of Jura drams in an attempt to explore the aromas and flavours produced from the island of the same name. I didn’t like…..a fair number of them.
Of the ones I didn’t dislike, I’m still far from convinced that Jura is generally to my taste. Enjoying the odd bottle out of hundreds is many miles away from becoming a convert and an evangelist. But let’s be clear here – that’s not me positioning the distillery as the outlier that I clearly have by not reviewing it – there’s several producers whose spirit style sadly isn’t really my bag – modern Bladnoch immediately springs to mind.
There’s been a recent spate of older (25-30+) expressions that have got mouth’s wagging. And I’ve tried a number of these. They’re quite nice. But the operative word here is still ‘quite’. None of these whiskies have yet inspired me to want to write about Jura - and certainly not in the same terms that most blogs approach the distillery – with distain. That distain has in my view affected a whole generation of drinkers - you don’t have to look far to see folks mocking the distillery and its expressions - often without ever have sampled them. I've not really wanted to be any part of that. And so, I’ve just both consciously and subconsciously left it alone until now. Whisky is enjoyment and writing about whisky should come with its own (different) enjoyment otherwise, put the pen down.
However, now that I’m ‘forced’ into breaking my Jura fast to continue the 2021 Boutique-y whisky Advent rundown – I guess that should be the end of this silliness. Jura has a fandom like many other distilleries – and there are many aspects of its production, mindset and approach that all bear closer examination. And so, stay tuned in 2022 – after all this time of saying nothing, in preparing for today’s review, I thought of some things worth saying.
Day 18’s dram is Jura 20 year old Batch 5. It’s a release of 201 bottles (so more than likely single cask territory), at 48.2% ABV. These are still available from Master of Malt for £101.95.
Both Sorren at OCD Whisky and Brian at Brian's Malt Musings are undertaking the 24 days of Boutique-y this year – so after you’re done here, go check them out for some alternative views.
Nose: Fusty and dank. Opening with Honey Nut Loops and salted caramel before heading towards a highly alluvial combination of wet gravel and silty clay. Flour-sprinkled bloomer loaf and pancake batter join candy sugar and overripe (nearly turning) fruit - peaches, pineapples and pink lady apples. Lots going on. Dilution expresses reed and flax alongside full fat butter – but the profile is far narrower as a result and much of the intricacy has been lost.
Taste: Sweet, sour and still dank. Old copper coins and spent espresso beans sit with rapeseed oil, shale and single. A selection of ripe pink apples and overripe, browning cooking apples join golden syrup and a touch of marzipan. Reduction provides a real gristy character – porridge, milled flour and a stack of flatpack cardboard.
Finish: Medium with salt-licked rocks, margarine and tangy souring fruits.
Boutique-y’s fifth batch of Jura is a challenging whisky. It is surprisingly broad, not easy to fully understand and always distinctive. In short – it’s likely a crowd-divider. To my palate, I admired the overall expressiveness and scope, but disliked quite how fusty and sour the juice had turned in places. Turning to dilution to see if a better equilibrium could be found proved to be a mistake – the ABV is as good as it gets here, and anything lower is just too flour-ery and/or washed out. But nevertheless, this whisky really made me think, and that of itself is an commendable quality.