A little while back I had the chance to sample a couple of interesting releases from Jura as part of a Tweet tasting organised with The Whisky Wire’s Steve Rush.
We tried a selection that evening, but there were two that really stood out for me: the new travel retail (read: duty free) release called Turas Mara and one that is just shy of its 40th birthday, which will be bottled as a 40-year old for next year’s Jura festival (which takes place during Feis Ile week).
As a bit of background, Jura is the only distillery on the island, which is located across the way from its more distillery laden neighbour Islay. I went there last year and you can read all about the distillery, the island and its spooky past in this piece here.
The recently released Turas Mara is named after the gaelic word for journey and, according to the company, was inspired by the forced emigration of Jura’s residents (known as Diurachs) to Canada and the US in the 18th and 19th centuries. Its packaging was designed to reflect that with a compass on the side of the box and a poem written in the 19th century by resident Jessie Scott who saw many of her friends and relatives depart for different shores. While it has no age statement, the company could say the 42% ABV whisky was matured in a mix of bourbon barrels, Spanish sherry butts, French oak barriques & Portuguese port pipes.
The other dram, meanwhile, was simply called ’39 3/4′ as it is not quite yet 40 years old. It was matured in a second-fill sherry butt before it was transferred for the final year’s maturation in Amoroso sherry casks. The plan is to release it once it hits that big milestone.
Here’s what I thought of each of them.
(c): Rich mustardy-amber
(n): At first, almond extract with a dash of baked oranges and a tiny hint of black pepper at the back for a kick. There is also a hint of that winey note one gets from port pipes, some intriguing floral notes, a dash of cherries and some dark wood to top things off. Really quite appealing.
(p): Slow moving legs on the glass indicate a goopey, sticky whisky and I’m not disappointed: it’s really oily and rich on the palate. Starts with a touch of zingy orange and dark chocolate, before a slightly drying smoky edge develops. A second sip reveals vanilla, fresh grass and something soda like (it’s quite zingy, so an image of coca cola comes to mind).
(f): Cigarettes and freshly mown grass.
On the night of the Twitter tasting, I said this was “one you could have a few drams of – ie the palate wouldn’t get tired. Not a huge oomph on palate but very drinkable.” On re-tasting it, I agree with my original statement. The finish doesn’t go on forever but it is very pleasing and I really like the nose on this one. It’s also less woody than some Juras I’ve had before, an element which sometimes put me off. One to try if you’re at the airport shop for sure!
(c): Melting dark brown sugar
(n): There is something classy and elegant about this dram but it is in no way a more delicate creature, which is slightly surprising for its age. At first, notes of rich eggnog, something nutty and salty like cashew butter, flat cola and some baking figs really came through. It was sweet and heady, just impressive all around.
(p): The palate impressed further, with heavy rich notes of figs, brown sugar, dates, some warmed up vanilla pods, baking oranges and golden syrup. It is definitely one for after dinner, on a cool, dark night. Lovely.
(f): Wood jewelery boxes and dates.
This is a really interesting dram. It’s bold but elegant, and really shows its age well. One to look out for when it hits shelves next year.