Who doesn’t like a gift? Nobody, that’s who… and they’re even better when they’re gifts of whisky! (Hopefully my wife remembers this, with my B-day right around the corner!)
This 35cL bottle of Jura Origin, for example, was one such gift. Brought directly from Scotland by my good buddy and frequent dramming associate, Richard, it became something of a special item within my collection simply because it’s one that can’t be easily replaced – I just don’t have friends heading to the UK on a regular basis! Yes, I am aware that Jura is available in Canada, I’m just sentimental I suppose. Nevertheless, the time has come to stop carefully storing this whisky and to give it a proper review.
Jura distillery, unsurprisingly, is located on the Scottish island of Jura, which is located right next to the infamous whisky machine that is Islay. What is surprising, perhaps, is that the carton-notes identify Jura as the only distillery on the entire island. This makes a little more sense after discovering that Jura, although fairly large, is a sparsely populated isle with fewer than 200 inhabitants which, for Scottish folk is apparently enough to justify building a distillery. (I guess here in Alberta we probably come close to about one liquor store fore every 200-or-so people, so maybe it’s perfectly reasonable after all!😉 Plus, I know some people who dream of a private tropical escape but, if you ask me, paradise sounds more like a nearly private island capable of producing its own single malt… All for me!!!… But I digress.)
I would have expected a distillery so near to Islay to share common characteristics with those aggressive, delicious peaty monsters, as do so many of the other “West Coast” malts. Jura Origin 10 Year Old, however, identifies itself as “Light & Delicate” right on the front of the box. Wait a minute, that doesn’t sound at all like peat, smoke and iodine!
There’s only one thing to do, take this bottle for a test drive. Jura Origin is bottled at 40% abv.
To the Eye
Deep, rich honey gold with flashes of copper. The most striking thing about the look of Jura Origin is the obviously thick viscosity. Rather than light and delicate, his has me preparing for a rich mouthfeel with some deep flavours and a longer finish. We’ll see…
On the Nose
My very first impression is that the nose is similar to Glenmorangie whiskies, full of juicy orchard fruits. Additional time reveals several other aromas, as well, but I am surprised by the assertive note of lime in my nostrils. Punky corn is also very forward, probably evidence that this whisky has been matured in ex-bourbon barrels. Bits of honeycomb and roasted malt can also be found in the breezes.
On the Tongue
This is a unique dram. Espresso beans jump out at me… not usually a dominant flavour… Oak is there for sure, along with black pepper and something vegetal in a slightly grassy way, so maybe I should just go with green chilies as a descriptor. Honey and some baked apples, complete with a dusting of brown sugar and cinnamon, also make appearances. Interestingly, I also get the impression of a Big Turk chocolate bar – milk chocolate mixed with something jammy and fruity.
The oiliness of the whiskey does, in fact, result in a surprisingly long finish. More cinnamon, pencil shavings, leather and pithy citrus linger on and on, until I go for another sip!
Because of proximity, I was expecting something more akin to an Islay but Jura Origin is nothing like the malts from neighbouring Islay. I’m still unsure about the “Light & Delicate” claim, but I suppose it is when compared to those Islay malts. However, this one is actually more similar to a highland profile. It seems that the good people of Jura have created a dram that is at the same time both unique and familiar.
It’s funny, at no point did I stop to think, Damn, this is good!… until I was reaching for the bottle to refill my empty glass! Nothing really stands out as exceptional yet it seems to me that, moreso than most, this whisky is greater than the sum of its parts. The aroma, flavours and finish all combine and work together to convince you that this is an excellent drop. I don’t usually comment on the empty glass, but the maple and mulled cider breezes are too enticing to ignore.
This is a very enjoyable whisky. Good on you, Jura!