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Isle of Jura Diurach's Own 16 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky (1000ml)
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- ABV 40%
Lying just to the East of Islay, off Scotland's west coast, Jura is one of the country's most spectacular but least known islands - notoriously inaccessible, and made famous by a distillery that shares its name. With just one pub and one main road, it’s likely not much has changed since 1946 when George Orwell complained of his difficulties getting to the island. Despite its location, the isle has probably been settled for around 10,000 years. “Jura” has several meanings: “two brothers Dih and Rah”, “island of yew trees”, and “island of red deer”. But with a human population of under 200 and about 5000 red deer, (the deer out number the people by around twenty five to one), expert opinion tends towards the latter.Historically, the island's remoteness meant it frequently escaped the mainland excise men. Illicit stills were common place. Laird Archibald Campbell built the Jura distillery in the early 1800s near a cave where illegal distilling had been carried on - possibly from the 1600s. The whisky produced then was a characteristic peaty malt – not at all like the present day Jura product. In the early 1900’s, due to internal disputes, the distillery was dismantled. The roofs were later removed to avoid paying rates and the distillery became a ruin. In the 1950’s, enthusiastic locals, Robin Fletcher and Riley-Smith, got together to see how they could solve a foreseeable jobs crisis on the island. They thought about reopening the distillery to see if new people could be attracted. They were joined by farmer, distiller and architect, Delme Evans. The trio raised financial backing eventually, mostly from Scottish and Newcastle Breweries, to re-build the distillery on the site of the old ruined one. Delve Evans said of his plans “My primary aim was to construct an economic distillery within the space available. Everything had to be simple and fall to hand. You could not afford to complicate things in so remote a location…. It was our intention to produce a Highland-type malt differing from the typically peaty stuff last produced in 1900. I therefore designed the stills to give spirit of a Highland character, and we ordered malt which was only lightly peated.” The new distillery was opened on April 26th 1963 and employed a quarter of the island’s male workforce. Presently owned by independent bottler, Whyte & Mackay, who bought Jura in 1993, the distillery uses American x Bourbon casks in the main with some sherry casks. A former Jura manager, Michael Heads, explained, "......the whole character of the place, mainly through the water we use and the conditions we mature it in, the fact that we're sitting beside the sea with salty air help to give Jura whisky its unique taste." At around 2 million litres of spirit per year, the distillery is not an insignificant operation. It has been a boon for the island community, currently attracting about 7000 visitors annually. Employing stills nearly 8 metres high, the house style tends towards a light to medium bodied spirit, on the drier side, making for fine aperitif whiskies with flavours of fruit, spice and subtle smokiness. So subtle, in fact, you can drink these anytime rather than waiting for the right mood (Prophecy and Superstition are the two peatiest expressions, but are nothing compared to Ardbeg, for example). Do your homework and you’ll see these prices represent great buying, especially given the large 1 litre formats. The 16 Year old spent 14 years in first fill American white oak Bourbon cask, followed by another two in ex-Amoroso oloroso sherry casks. "Duriach" is the name given to the inhabitants of Jura island and this particular bottling is the local's choice pick - hence the label. It's also Jura’s flagship expression.
Tasting note: Bright polished copper. Trace sulphur blows off to reveal an unexpectedly Sherry-rich nose. A delicate white pepper lift carries classic fruit cake notes along side dried fig / apricot and candied orange. Clean and fresh in the mouth with a middle weight profile of dried fruits, spicy stewed pear, a forgivable trace of sulphur and a lively ginger-bread finish. A tasty, medium bodied sherried malt that sits on the drier side. 40% Alc./Vol.Other reviews... By far and away the most improved Jura for a long time. 90.5 points - Jim Murray's Whisky Bible 2017 Nose: Cedary. Shoe polish. Wood speaks up first but elegantly gives way to fruity notes. fruit cake. Marmalade. Raisin scones. Cinnamon. Palate: Round and mellow. Mouth-coating. Rich and luscious. Candied chestnut. Resiny. Smooth. Finish: Round, sweet, drying off on wood. Hint of chewed tobacco. Comment: A very restorative and comforting dram. 40% Alc./Vol. Rating: 8.25 - Martine Nouet, www.whiskymag.com