Isle Of Jura 1976 Feith A’ Chaorainn
I think I’ve conceded this here on ATW before: I have a glaring hole in my common sense and a pseudo-blind spot in some respects when it comes to Jura. If I’m to be totally honest, several of the whiskies have been less than awesome. Some have been merely average. Others have been good. And some have actually been quite special. And then, a few steps down the road from there, two or three have actually been spectacular.
The thing with Jura, though, is that it’s wildly inconsistent, generally too wine-heavy and often has a nutty/malty character that doesn’t work for me. So why then do I give them a bit of a pass? First off, because I think Jura has improved dramatically in the past few years. Secondly, and probably most tellingly, I cotton to nearly everything that comes from the Hebridean heaven of Islay, and that sort of carries over to Jura as well. I’ve romanticized the heck out of the region. I like to believe that I can still distance myself enough to score fairly, though. And I think past Jura scores speak to that.
The malt we’re looking at now happens to fall in that last category I mentioned above. Utterly spectacular. So let’s dig in…
‘Feith A’ Chaorainn’, means ‘The lands around the Rowan tree’. Like most contemporary whisky releases, the brand found a cool angle and spun the hell out of it. This one, fortunately, happens to be cooler than most, and ties back to superstitions surrounding the Rowan tree. Said superstitions speak of protection for the island’s travellers, guarding against malevolent beings and witchcraft, being the tree from which the first woman in Norse mythology was made, having saved the mighty Thor from a powerful torrent, being the tree on which the devil hung his own mother, a portal between worlds, and is the culmination of a Greek myth involving a lost chalice and the blood and feathers of a gods-sent eagle. Pick the angle you like best. All seem rather esoteric and badass in mine eyes.
Oh yeah…and the whisky is at least as good as the tales it is linked to. Just as magic. Just as timeless. This is Jura on the world stage.
Nose: Soft and beautiful. The best nose on any Jura I’ve ever met. Pear. White flour. Faintest whiff of latex.
White chocolate. Roman nougat. Soft custard notes. Vanilla. Nuts. Rich hard wood (but not shavings or sawdust or anything). Citrus and oil. Wet rock. Just a wee whiff of far off smoke. Stunning, really.
Palate: Nice ‘oaky’ cask notes. Faint touch of char and smokiness (but not peat). Soft fruits and white baking (biscuits,
scones, buns, something). Lemon cream. Rich with oily fruit notes. Soft pie crust. Barely steeped green tea. Faint ginger. And other light spices. Leaves very clean oak notes. Very rich for a 46%er.
Thoughts: Not just beautiful for Jura, but beautiful for whisky. Period. This is an amazing drop.
– Images & Words: Curt