On paper, the Jura Seven Wood seems a recipe for a disastrous whisky. After all, Jura cannot master the art of distillation and utilise just a common everyday ex-bourbon cask effectively. To plough relentlessly into two, three, four, or even five casks and then to kick on further, seems like folly of the highest order. Reaching the grand total of seven before bottling is either sheer madness or a stroke of genius.
Sadly, it’s a bitterly flawed whisky that is being shipped out in the guise of Seven Wood. Normally I’d save this for my conclusions at the foot of this review, but upon nosing and tasting this Jura, a beast was unleashed and the Jura bottle smasher deep within my soul was stirred. Formerly consigned to the deepest dungeon imaginable, encased within thick stone walls, right beside a stockpile of Highland Park Valkyrie. For a while, the beast was quarantined but it only takes one whisky…
Look, I’ve tried to reasonable and kind. I’ve struggled to resist the urges and manic tendencies. The Jura Journey was ok if a little overpriced and I had hopes that maybe just maybe, things might have improved. The Seven Wood erases all that goodwill and gives you a firm slap across the palate whilst emptying your wallet and screaming eejit right in your face.
We’ve stated before that the Jura rebrand is little more than a fresh lick of paint. Clever marketing in the hope of achieving a smart reboot. A premium side shuffle that opens the gates of hell to more whiskies at a more expensive price point. Jura as a brand sells well and has its own faithful supermarket contingent of single malt drinkers. Achieving solid success in this channel and being available almost everywhere. Essentially the whisky equivalent of vermin. I’ve joked that when archaeologists unearth our civilisation in a future millennium, all they’ll find are unopened bottles of Jura and Coldplay albums.
Whether this rebranding exercise is a success, only time will tell. Already, I know of some Jura drinkers who lament the loss of Superstition and other core releases. The Journey wasn’t to their liking and generally, they’ve felt ignored. Thing is, the new range is essentially the same old Jura with a twist or finish. In reality, if the owners have instigated changes at the distillery or improved their wood management policy, it’ll be several years before we can see the benefits of these much-needed improvements. For now, we’re stuck with the same flawed Jura distillate funnelled into lacklustre casks and pumped onto the market en masse.
Mark tried to be upbeat and kind throughout his Jura One For You but I’m not going to sit on the fence with this terrible whisky. Yes, perhaps by chance it might be my palate here, but it certainly isn’t any bias; more than anything I want to discover that great Jura. The one that gives the distillery an existence and purpose and we’ve come close with the Cadenhead’s 30 year old Jura.
Except with the Seven Wood, we’re back to the same old minging utter kack. In a way this is reassuring as you can rebrand, reinvent packaging and new stories but if the whisky is still flawed its all gibberish. My specific interest is in how the Seven Wood came to be. Did they have a bunch of used casks from Dalmore that needed to go somewhere other than the local garden centre? Was there an especially inept batch of ex-bourbon casks that had given birth to the most insignificant Jura ever? Did this prompt the need to finally flush some flavour into proceedings except it took another 6 variations to achieve anything? All reasonable suspicions based on prior form and we’ll never know the truth, unfortunately.
In reality what we have is an assortment of all the main French forests plus the base camp of miscellaneous American forestry. My learned and distinguished colleague Adam, went so far as to suggest Jura’s marketing department had missed a trick by not saying something dramatically asinine and wrong about showcasing blending terroir.
Bottled at 42% strength, the Seven Wood unsurprisingly is an amalgamation of cask types. Featuring the original host of ex-bourbon casks, the liquid then departs on a rollercoaster journey visiting Vosges, Jupilles, Les Bertranges, Allier, Tronçais, and Limousin casks. All in the name of? That ladies and gentlemen is the question. What is Jura? What has this whisky become? More representative of its spaghetti cask lifespan or a true reflection of the remote island?
This Jura Seven Wood is widely available including The Whisky Exchange for £58.75 or Amazon have it currently for £50. That’s the thing about Jura there always seems to be price competition across the market for the majority of its whiskies.
Jura Seven Wood – review
Colour: a rich honey
On the nose: muffled for want of a better word. There’s a stampede to get out of the glass and the flavours are knocking each other out. Honey, ginger nuts provide a cereal note before apricots and pineapple. A touch of smoke, golden syrup, lemon peel, milk chocolate and caramel. You’ve got to really let it sit for a while or work at it to reveal the individual strands. Water loosens things up slightly with orange and a perfume note coming through.
In the mouth: it’s just a vacuum. We’ve got this really poor spirit so we’re going to flush it through a series of casks to hammer in some flavour; it’s brutal. Vanilla. A faded marmalade, playdough, plasticine; a quagmire of flavours resulting in a jumbled mess. Ginger, more of the smoke and even towards the end there’s an unpleasant alcohol presence suggesting bad spirit even at a lowly 42%. There’s been a spirit murder. Water sands this down but leaves a very inept and terribly bland whisky.
The Jura Seven Wood is very poor whisky and I’ve still got the Jura 18 year old to go for MALT. The Journey feels like an Olympic champion compared to the Seven wood. Here you’re paying for some fancy casks that exist only to try and hide the inadequacies in the base whisky. A jumbled mess. A complete and utter shambles. Call it what you will, but never darken my door again.
The guide to our scoring band is worth reading to put this into context.
Lead image from The Whisky Exchange plus we do have commission links within this review but this never influences our verdict. Otherwise, we’d double the score and tell you to buy it now!