May 112013
 

Isle Of Jura Mountain Of The Sound085 (2)

46% abv

Score:  84/100

 

Hmmm…Cabernet Sauvignon wine finished single malts.  Not sure how to weigh in here in a politically correct manner, so let’s not even try.  These two libations, while often delicious in their own rights, are not good bedfellows.  There may be a correct balance to be struck between them, but in the few instances I’ve tried whiskies finished (matured?) in this manner the distillers have missed the mark.  Hate to generalize, but at this point I’m gonna go on record and say it really doesn’t work.

Having said that…I went into this whisky rather blindly.  Hadn’t read a label…seen a proper picture…or heard anything about the age/finish/strength/what have you.  I knew it was Jura, and one of three releases in the ‘Paps’ collection.  That’s really about it.

The paps, if you’re not fully aware, are the three peeks on Jura right near the Sound of Islay.  You can stare down their rather imposing physiques from the Northeast side of Islay, preferably with a dram of Caol Ila or Bunnahabhain in hand.  Trust me…I’ve done so a couple of times now.  ‘Paps’ is quite literally a reference to what you’d think it is.  Boobies.  Yep.  You’re smiling now, ain’tcha?

So…to recap:  limited release Jura…15 years old…finished in ex-Cabernet Sauvignon barrels.  I have to admit that what we ultimately end up with is not a bad whisky, it is simply outside my favored profiles (of which I have many).  Pick this one up (and the other two) for the story…for a neat range tasting…for a quirky offshoot from the Jura range, but do come in with eyes open that this is not typical of the distillery.

By the way…full disclosure:  I have not tried the other two in the series.  I’ve tasted this against other Juras, but not the Mountain Of Gold or The Sacred Mountain.

Found this on the Jura Info site:  “There has been many a dram fuelled discussion about the witch of Jura causing the deep glacial scar that runs down one fell.  And many debate whether it’s true that the Paps are the burial chambers of giant Norse warriors.”

Cool shit, huh?

Nose:  Oddly enough…buttery.  Fruity (yes…quite some grapes…and pepper!).  Salty tang.  Very vaguely, distantly, minutely, just hintingly lightly sweaty (but NOT in a bad way!).  More pepper and a bit of very fresh black tea.  Vanilla.  Gingerbread.

Palate:  Wine-ish.  Maybe some peat.  Can’t quite put my finger on it, but reminds me of another whisky I’ve tasted in the last couple of years.  Most probably a Bruichladdich of some sort.  Quite drying.  Puckers me a fair bit.  Also somewhat bitter, but mellows after some time.  In all honesty, that mellowing takes a fair bit of time.  Denouement into sugar cookies and fruit.  Very nice back end.  Again…salty, then into plum skins.

 

– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Curt

 Posted by at 4:50 pm
May 112013
 

Isle Of Jura Superstitiontoday 024

43% abv

Score:  83.5/100

 

This is sort of the ‘moderately peated’ Jura in the range.  The packaging says ‘lightly peated’, but I can’t help but wonder…is that simply based on acknowledging some of the ridiculous acrobatics of a few of the Islay heavyweights in recent years?  Not sure, but I believe this whisky has a legitimate claim to step up and declare itself a wee bit beefier than it’s letting on.  Hey…let’s face it…peat sells.  Ask Ardbeg.

Superstition is apparently a vatting of fiery young peated malt and some slightly older (though I’d be surprised if older than 12 or so) standard Jura.  Could be.  If so, it certainly integrates the two styles well.  I had assumed it was just a lid-level peating of the everyday Jura malt.

I’ve said it before, and will do so here again….these sort of entry level positioned Jura releases would benefit from bottling at a slightly higher abv.  Just seems a tad weak-ish when it comes to delivery.  Jura is still a wild, rugged and untamed island.  Let’s see some of that primeval might bottled in these releases, with which the distillery likes to play to some of the island’s lore.  (Do some research on Jura.  Neat stuff there and around).

If you dig this whisky, I would suggest taking the leap of faith and grabbing a bottle of Jura’s ‘profoundly peated’ Prophecy (their marketing, not my adjective prowess).  It’s most definitely a phenolic heavyweight, but not only the next logical step in the range, but also a damn fine dram in it’s own right.

Nose:  Malt-heavy and quite organic.  Some feinty new make notes still detectable, but that’s just the whisky showing its scrappiness, and shouldn’t much detract.  A mate said this was a peated version of the Origin (well…my words, his sentiments).  I see where he’s coming from, as some of the fruit melange and honey come through here, with a bit of a spicy and nutty character.  It does have a slightly old school vibe too.  I’d almost (I say ‘almost’…don’t crucify me) peg this as a w&M blend.

Palate:  Slightly off-kilter (but no more so than many of the rather charming oddballs that come out of Bruichladdich), though fruity and pleasant.  Somewhat slightly grassy.  Some of those young feisty feint notes here as well.  Not quite as good as the nose, but quite drinkable with a lot of individual character.

 

– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Curt

 Posted by at 4:21 pm
May 112013
 

Isle Of Jura Boutique Barrels 1996086

56.5% abv

Score:  90/100

 

Yes!  Here we go.  A Jura to seriously build a long-lasting relationship to the distillery with.

Jura and I never really cozied up together at first.  I found ‘er to be a little snarky and unpleasant.  She probably found me somewhat aloof and stand-offish…maybe even snobby.

We’re working on it though, and day by day (ahem…dram by dram) putting our differences behind us.  Let’s not call it love yet, but we’re certainly ‘in like’.  A very pleasant experience with a 25 year old Jura while touring Islay a few months back helped.  A recent bout of make-up sex with the 10 y.o. Origin moved us closer still.  And finally…a revisiting of the heavily peated Prophecy (of which I am a fan) brought me to the point of being ready to sit down and work things out.

This 1996 Boutique Barrels expression was one eighth of a recent Jura tasting I and a mate did.  It was a top three finisher of the eve.  Being as I believe this one is still relatively accessible on the open market, it seemed a great time to share a few thoughts on what is a rather impressive outing from Jura.

This range of Jura releases is exciting in that it is taking the distillery away from the generally low strength standard releases they are more famously known for, and throwing them up against the heavyweights out there already acquiescing to discerning consumer demand for stronger, better and craft presentation.  Not only are they now playing along…they’re viable and earning accolades.  Rightfully so.

Good whisky.  Good presentation.

Nose:  Slightly synthetic sweetness, but very pleasant.  VERY pleasant.  Some peach and other fruits.  York mint patties.  Nice spices…cinnamon, nutmeg.  Not far off some of those Amrut profile zestynotes.  Some rising bread dough.  Glue/putty/fluor paste.  Stewed tomato.  Very cool…very singular nose.

Palate:  Quite some peach again.  Pepper.  A lot of sweet and spicy vanilla notes.  Fresh vanilla pod.  Stays juicy through full development.

 

– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Curt

 Posted by at 3:34 pm
May 112013
 

Isle Of Jura 10 y.o. Origin

40% abv

Score:  84.5/100

 

Oh my.  What the heck has Jura done?  A few years back I scored Jura 10 in the low 70s.  Fast forward a year or two, and a revisit showed some marked improvement.  Less heavy-handed on the nutty, malty, oakiness.  A little bigger on sweetness and balance.  Think I had it up around 79 points.  Now…yet another couple years on…here I sit, enjoying a nice dish of crow.  After all the less than stellar things I’ve said about this dram in the past, I have to switch allegiances and admit that it is now at a standard where I would unequivocably recommend on to others.

Yes, of course it is still an entry level malt, but it really is a tasty one.  From failing grades to flying colors, in other words.  Not sure what they’ve done, but my immediate thoughts are a tweak to the spirit cut itself and better wood management.

Much like some of the other malts from the Whyte and Mackay portfolio, this one suffers from too little horsepower.  In this day and age of fierce competition and a seemingly never ending whisky boom, 40% seems like an archaic stance.  Other distilleries have taken note.  Time for Jura to embrace the new minimum standard; 46%…NCF…nae color.  I’m not a stickler over color, but the first two…yes, please.

Either way…we like.  We are now fans.

To me, in earlier incarnations, this malt always seemed over-oaked, yet not mature.  Almost counter-intuitive.  Nice to see the wood being held in check and a nice balance found.  Well done, Diurachs.  A ‘most improved’, for sure.

Nose:  Malty and salty.  Caramel and toffee notes.  Something akin to a young-ish Bunnahabhain.  Honey and orange.  Still some rather youthful (and kinda feinty) notes, but this is, relatively speaking, a young malt.  Candy fruitiness.  Thick veins of vanilla.  Home made playdough (think salty dough).

Palate:  Nutty.  Plastic and waxy.  Slightly drying with a peppery nip.  Some fruitiness, but indistinguishable really.  Imagine a fruit cocktail in syrup thrown in the blender to become a homogenous…BUT NICE…fruit puree.  What’s in it?  Dunno.  Do I like?  You bet.  Grapefruit pith at the end.  Very slightly drying.

 

– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Curt

 Posted by at 3:14 pm
Jul 152012
 

Isle Of Jura 18 y.o.

40% abv

Score:  82/100

 

So…this kid and Jura?  We’re not the best of friends.  Don’t mind it.  Don’t love it.  Until the Prophecy came along I was a little indifferent to be honest.  Indifferent or underwhelmed.  The entire lure of Jura for me is the mystique associated with the island’s history and geography.  The true heartbreak in my relationship with Jura is that last year’s pond-hopping took me to Islay, but didn’t give me quite enough time to get across to Jura.  Next time, suppose.

Jura 18.  Hm.  18 years is just hitting a sweet spot in terms of maturation.  From here till about…oh…30 or so has a nifty little flavor profile that you can tack on to almost any malt and see certain characteristics revealed (a waxy, rubbery, dusty, oaky influence from the cask that is bloody sexy).  Indeed we do see a little of that in the Jura 18, but not quite enough to mask the youthful dry nuttiness I just can’t seem to evade with Jura malts.

Having said that…there is ample charm here to make this a rewarding dram.  And one well worth the ridiculously low price point.  Problem being…I believe this one is no longer in production.

Onwards…

Bourbon rides hard on the nose.  There is a mild perfumed waxiness (almost like a snuffed scented candle) and warm broken leather up front.  Dry nut and a little too much oak, then into an oddly forced spiciness (hard to describe, but doesn’t seem to flow naturally).  Toffee….some candied nuts…and finally the fruits arrive with a late fanfare.

The delivery is oaky.  Very oaky.  Almond (that dry nuttiness) and a hint of white pepper appear.  This one is slightly tannic, likely a result of the Oloroso influence.  All followed by a nice pleasant fade of ebbing oak and spiced apple pie.

Less fruity than I imagined it would be, but hey…that’s my preconception failing me.

All in…not a bad drink at all.  Hm…could I slowly be coming ’round to Jura?

Next up…Isle Of Jura Superstition.

 

– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Curt

 Posted by at 1:46 pm
May 022012
 

Isle Of Jura Prophecy

46% abv

Score:  88.5/100

 

Here it is.  Finally.  A Jura I can really sink my teeth into.  Prophecy is a small batch release (10,000 bottles, I am led to believe) of ‘profoundly peated’ no-age-statement Jura single malt.  Why do I like this?  Is it because I am a peatophile and this is like chewing a brick of the stuff?  No.  (Well…maybe a little).  Actually…it is simply because it is bloody good stuff.

This is a surprisingly Islay-ish non-Islay malt.  Yass…yass…I know.  Jura is just a wee swim across the sound from Islay.  Hardly world’s away in terms of terroir.  Or is it?  You’d be surprised.  Homework, boys and girls.  Go now.  I’ll wait.

To be completely honest this is really only a note or two off from being something Jim McEwan is rolling off the stills at Bruichladdich.  The Prophecy is the closest you’ll come to Port Charlotte without buying Port Charlotte.

The nose is a bold assortment of aggressive scents.  Creamy peat reek…dirty logs…heavy smoke and tar…hard spice and licorice…a touch of chili chocolate…very dry fruit…salt and citrus…malt and butter.  A wee bit of caramel to buffer the harder edges.  Caramel the flavor, not caramel the color, y’anti-E150a crusaders (another time…another place).

First sips provide the enormous delivery you’d expect from a whisky with an olfactory profile such as I just spoke of.  Heavy smoke and peat on arrival.  The smoke is decidedly meaty and carries a dried fruit compote as counterpart.  Smoked caramel next and on into salt and ash.  This is sassy…young and dirty.  The finish is all smoke and licorice.  Well…perhaps a little sherry-logged oak lingering.

Helluva drink.  Hats off to Mr. Paterson and the lads and lasses at Jura.  Thank you.

 

– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Curt

 Posted by at 10:10 pm