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KCM Spirit Reviews

Monday, August 19, 2013

Review 173: Isle of Jura 10 Yr

Review 173
Isle of Jura 10 Year: 43% abv

Background: Isle of Jura is a single malt Scotch whisky off the…well…the isle of Jura, to be frank. Jura is not the most climactic of all places when you put it in perspective, netting at 142 square miles of land with one road, one pub, one distillery, and a population of 188 people. You could say then, that the people of Jura are probably pretty well familiar with each other. Despite my seemingly scathing remarks of Jura, pictures show it to be a fairly gorgeous island, not unlike most of Scotland’s landscape. How about the distillery, though? The good people of Jura had self-entitlement to distil liquor until 1781, where authorities decided that they needed a license. In 1810, Jura distillery was founded. At some point, the distillery was mothballed, only to be rebuilt in 1960. Currently, Whyte and Mackay own Jura. Jura yields a yearly capacity of about 2.2M liters a year, produced by 4 tall stills. This particular whisky is their 10 Year offering, netting 43% abv and what looks to be natural coloring. This particular Scotch has been a mystery for me for as long as I’ve owned it, because I can’t seem to place my finger on whether or not I like it. Today I do a formal review.


Nose:  The nose, on immediate visitation, relays flavors of both citrusy white wine and some amount of corn and light grain. This nose gives the impression that the whisky is fairly young, with a light, fresh smell to it. There is a slight hint of maltiness in the nose, but it is overwhelmed by misplaced smells of other grains. There isn’t a strong sense of woodiness dominant on the nose (with exception to the odd sawdust smell that you get if you spend enough time with it), but there is a consistent nuttiness that comes through. If you dig deep enough, there is almost a slight hint of sherry to it, but it smells coincidental, not intentional. There is a subtle seaweed/sea salt type implication to the whisky, but it doesn’t come through like your Old Pulteney’s would. Overall, it is a mellow nose with some interesting flavors, but it is flat and shallow flavors that come through. There is not a lot of intensity to the nose.

Arrival: The arrival starts off sweet, making it seem as if there was some play from a sherry cask that might not have been assumed before. There is a hint of maltiness, caramel, and then with enough time, some salt and pepper that burns through. There is a sweet vanilla that contradicts a sense of saltiness, with some mixed berries and orange marmalade to accompany the flavor. There is a sense of tartness that comes through, akin to sweet lemon candy flavor.  The arrival is bold and complex, and certainly a respectable entrance into this whisky.

Body: This is where you might start losing the familiarity of single malt Scotch. There is not maltiness to be found in the body. There is a strong sense of salty nuttiness that is very prevalent (maybe almonds). The body is not very climactic, which can be common after a big arrival, and especially leading into this finish. There is some sense of corn that comes through in the body, almost reminiscent of soft bourbon flavor.
Finish: There is a confusing mixture of flavors coming out of the finish, most unfortunate of which is the sense of burnt wood that reminds me a lot of the Dalmore 12 we just tried. The corn-like grain flavor persists into the finish, with somewhat of a fluoride-like aftertaste that acts as the last flavor standing. Other than that and some light citrus flavors, with the small hint of sherry coming through, Jura falls flat in the finish. I don’t think this finish is what it could be, and with such a promising arrival, it’s disappointing to see it come to this conclusion. The finish is short and what lasts is bitter and strained. We are still waiting to see how water may help make this whisky better.

With Water

Nose: After letting this Scotch marry with some water for a few minutes, you will find in the nose that the barley starts to come through more. There are still very similar notes as before, but some confectionary subtleties start to emerge as well. There is a slight pear-like scent that can be found, as well as a small amount of green tea smell.

Arrival: The arrival, after water, is smooth and sweet, with similar flavors as before. The sherry, mixed with some lime tartness, is a prevalent sweet and sour combo up front, with some herbal notes later on.

Body: The herbal, grassy flavors bleed into the body, presenting it with a little more character than before. All the same, the body is still pretty subtle and short, just dying off from the arrival.
Finish: The finish has not been salvaged from the addition of water. There is still bitterness to be found in the finish. It also comes across as slightly vegetal. The slight burnt flavor seems to reside quite a bit in this instance, and there is a bit more malt richness to carry through, but it seems compromised by an almost plastic-like flavor. This is just not hitting the right way.

Final Comments: I would like to start by saying I have nothing against the Isle of Jura or its people (all 188 of you). I think the fact that they have a distillery to represent them is excellent, and Jura does have some great representation in terms of bottlings. Personally, I am not a fan of the 10 Year, and I don’t want to drink more of it. It is unique, it has a nice arrival, and it has some complexities to it. I would recommend trying this, for anybody who wants to learn more about single malt Scotch, but I have a bottle of it that I’m not too keen on killing off. That being said, I will continue to do experiments with this bottle and learn more about it. Bottom line, this is not on the top of my purchase list, and as a casual drinker, I wouldn’t put it on the top of yours either.
Why you’d buy it: You like trying new things, even if you’re told not to

Why you wouldn’t: You listen to the advice in my reviews (poor judgment call, if you ask me)

Score: 7.0/10

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