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The Isle of Jura
Jura is a remote island off the west coast of Scotland. It is a land of wild mountains and stormy seas. Thirty miles long and seven miles wide, it is completely surrounded by the Atlantic ocean. A mere 60 miles separates the island from mainland Scotland to the east. To the west lies Islay, the famous whisky island. To the north is in the inhospitable waters of the Corryvreckan, the world’s third-largest whirlpool.
Jura has a population of around 200 people. There is one road, one village, one hotel and one distillery. It is a unique and fascinating environment in which to make Scotch whisky.
Jura’s first distillery was founded in 1810 but closed in 1901. The equipment was stripped and sold and the roof was removed from the building so that no tax had to be paid. Over the years it became increasingly dilapidated until a pair of local landowners intervened in the 1960s.
Jura was suffering a significant population decline. When the original distillery was in production, the island was home to more than 1000 people. Seeking to halt the decline, Robert Fletcher and Tony Riley-Smith partnered with blender Charles Mackinlay & co and distillery architect William Delme-Evans to build a new distillery that would offer employment to the local population.
The first Jura single malt was released in 1974 but it wasn’t until the distillery was taken over by Whyte & Mackay in the 1980s that it became more widely known. Despite finding a degree of success in the UK market. Whyte & Mackay oversaw a complete overhaul of the range. Scrapping everything in favour of a slightly rebranded new selection that would feature a new house style with a lightly peated character.
Jura Tide was released as a pair with Jura Time in 2018, following the relaunch of the distillery’s core range and were the oldest releases in the new lineup. Both were aged 21 years.
Tide was bottled at 46.7%. It was matured in ex-bourbon barrels and finished in virgin American oak casks.
The whisky was apparently named Tide because it’s easy to lose track of time on the isle of Jura but if you stop and listen to the silence, you’ll soon notice the sound of the tide. It is, they say, an irresistible reminder of time’s power.
I think, more accurately, it is a reminder of a marketeer’s ability to talk complete bollocks.
*Full disclosure: I was sent this sample so that I could take part in Jura’s open day for this year’s Islay Festival. As always I will strive to give an honest opinion on the quality of the dram and the value for money it represents.
Smell: Quite a robust, woody nose. There are red apples, berries, ginger and cinnamon. Varnished oak. Toffee. Orange peel. The casks are certainly the dominant factor here.
Taste: For such a big nose it takes a while to spring to life on the tongue. In fairness, those big bourbon notes come across really well. There’s vanilla and caramel. Dark chocolate. Toffee. Coffee. Cinnamon. Citrus orange. Wee bit of oak char and a little bit of ginger on the finish. Possibly the most robust Jura I’ve come across in terms of mouthfeel.
Thoughts: I’ve struggled with Jura in the past. I think, for the most part, the spirit is too delicate for me to really fall in love with it. That isn’t helped by the low bottling strength of their core range expressions. Some limited editions seem to offer something a little different though and I don’t think it would be exaggerating to say that I enjoyed this one more than any other Jura I can remember. It possibly lacks a little balance with the spirit somewhat swamped by the cask and comes across a little more like bourbon than single malt but it delivers enough flavour to make it a seriously satisfying sip. At £126 a bottle it isn’t cheap but it seems to fare pretty well against similarly aged whiskies. Having sampled it two or three times now, I would consider buying a bottle. That isn’t something I’ve said about this brand very often. Good stuff.
If the whisky reviewed in this article interests you, you can buy it from Master of Malt at the link below. Please be aware that as an affiliate I can be paid commission on any purchases you make.
For more on Jura visit here.