Mention the name “Islay,” and a certain segment of whisky devotees goes weak at the knees. Here, on an island off Scotland’s southwest coast, lies the beating heart of the peat-loving whisky masses. Drawn by the eight famed distilleries currently in operation, you could be excused for overlooking the neighbouring land mass tucked between Islay and the mainland.
Of a humbler size, this island’s windswept shores are home to merely one road, one village, one church, one pub and, of late, two distilleries (one of which produces gin). The other shares the island’s name — Jura — and produces stunning whisky. Your good sense of taste would be wise to take note.
Fortunately, Jura Distillery shows no signs of inferiority from living in the shadow of the greatness across the channel. As many tales of distilleries are told, the original distillery first opened in 1810, fell into disrepair toward the end of the century and then resurfaced in 1963. Since that time, a proud islander tradition of whisky making has helped forge the Jura name and attract a growing legion of fans.
Trust a maritime community to design the instantly recognizable Jura bottle with an eye toward preserving it during the all too occasional stormy crossing to mainland markets. That mercantile sensibility would also recognize the need to share their premium single malts with an audience beyond the island’s 200 inhabitants.
Jura attributes its signature flavours to a combination of the unique microclimate, the extra-tall stills that are designed to produce the most pure spirit possible and the determination to produce a lineup of whiskies that, yes, stands out in a sea of choice.
Start your exploration with Jura 7 Wood, which epitomizes the distillery’s philosophy of going that extra mile. Aged in seven separate types of oak casks, it reveals a complexity of sweetness, smoke and sea spray. Expect concentrated peach, licorice and orange flavours.
If you find yourself fortunate enough to get a hold of Jura Tastival, seize the opportunity to enjoy a luscious, delicately decadent dram. It unfolds with a sustained sweetness as it summons layers of honey and orange, stewed fruit and dark chocolate. It’s an unforgettable whisky.
For a more signature style, reach for this Jura, aged in ex-bourbon casks and finished in Premier Grand Cru Classé Bordeaux barrels. Tropical fruit and richer coffee aromas prime the taste buds for lavish ripe fruit and cocoa flavours that linger on a long fade.
Finally, if it’s a nod to the neighbouring style of Islay that intrigues you, then acquire the legendary Jura Prophecy, the distillery’s heavily peated option. Expect billows of smoke and salty sea spray smoothing out to soft licorice and a gentle tug of cinnamon and spice.