At times there feels like a Spector is watching my every move. For each new whisky destination that is visited, I am acutely aware that in the shadows lurks the unforgiving and morbid sense of Jura. A whisky brand like no other, it has punched above its weight in terms of popularity but the mystery remains as to who buys and enjoys this particular whisky that is concocted off the coast of Islay.
Enjoying buoyant sales it seems an odd choice that the whisky rumour mill suggests that the brand of Jura is soon to undergo an apocalyptic change. The range of whiskies that we today associate with the distillery will come to a bloody end with no survivors taken. Instead from the ashes a new Jura will arise to form a core range that highlights the distillery character devoid of the Nose commander. This is all fine and good given the divisive nature of Jura and its failure to establish itself beyond a mere entry level malt or cheap supermarket option. To truly go where no Jura has gone before it needs to wipe the slate clean and start afresh from scratch.
Except what is the distillery character that we associate with Jura? The poor spirit cut? The use of tired and cheap casks? The sense that it has been flushed through a variety of hosts to hide its flaws and tanned to new Sunkist heights? Here at Malt the brand and its appeal today remains very much an enigma. Personally, I have searched through time for a glimpse of this distillery since its resurrection. I’ve chased bottled and experienced distillations from the 1970’s in search of that moment of true satisfaction. Yet it still remains undiscovered and out of reach.
If the rumours are true and the core range as we know it is set to fall upon its axe then it is a brave decision. Jura could quite happily continue its current existence and sales by staying in the shadows. To set outside and engage with the big boys of the single malt world takes guts and a formidable army. It also requires a whisky that prompts debate and engagement. Jura within my whisky realm enjoys a flat-line existence with only jokes around its wares prompting any debate. It’s all become a little tiresome especially when the artist formerly known as whisky rover is challenged around his Jura beliefs.
The Nose cannot sustain his career forever. There is no grasping of the wheel that drives time in an effort to slow down its relentless turning. Eventually we all need to slow down and step aside. Part of the problem with Jura I feel is Richard himself. As whisky drinkers we have come to understand his showmanship and preference for wine casks and intricate layered finishes. The whisky that we associate today with Dalmore and Jura especially is very much a representation of the master blender that sculpts their liquid output. Yes, jokingly the artificial colouring matches the tan as well. However, I’ve always looked forward to the day when change does arrive and Richard has to step aside from Jura at least – Dalmore will always be his favourite child – that will inject new life and vision into the whisky.
As with any whisky here at Malt it is given the same opportunity to shine and display its character. A visit to the bright lights of London allowed me to spend a few days with an unopened Jura Origins 10 year old. I’m always game for the challenge and the opportunity to find that essence of Jura character. Only then will the demon that lurks within the shadows be successfully exorcised and we can move onto other foes.
This Jura Origins will set you back around £30 but is regularly discounted and is bottled at 40% strength featuring artificial colouring and plenty of chill filtration.
Jura Origins 10 year old – review
Colour: a golden artificial caramel
On the nose: light with floral characteristics almost heather-like with fudge and black pepper on the fringes. Reverting back to the beginning to seek more depth there are elements of milk chocolate, wine gums and vanilla nougat but little else. Water helps develop apples and peeled potatoes.
In the mouth: the classical definition of benign or nothingness if I’m being polite. This Origins exists on the palate but only with scant fleeting flavours of a vanilla toffee. An oily quality especially on the finish is predated by a watery mossy quality. Dropping in water its rendered into a damp cardboard and metallic mix up. Pretty dire stuff.
For a decade you’d expect more definition on the nose and some resemblance of life on the palate. Instead this is tepid and inoffensive but ultimately representative of a poor whisky. If the rumours do transpire that Jura will be killing off its current range in 2018 and launching a new single identity aka Highland Park then so be it. As it currently stands Jura is not exactly the most inspiring of whisky brands to adopt but at least it’ll put an end to efforts such as this Origin.