Isle of Jura “Origin” 10 Year Old – Review

*Thanks to the good folks at The Baddish Group for the sample.

I was going to start the post off by with a brief discussion about the Paps of Jura and how, if you’re going to name your island’s highest points after a female body part, “paps” is a much better name than, say, the Hooters of Jura, or the cans, or the rack, or the ta-ta’s, boobs, chi-chi’s, knockers, jugs, winnebagos, or golden bozos, but that seemed a bit obvious and adolescent.

Better instead to comport myself with more erudition and tact, though some would argue it’s far too late for that now, and talk about the success story that is the Isle of Jura Distillery. Originally founded in 1810, the distillery was marginally successful in the 1800’s, suffering a few starts and stops along the way until it was eventually torn down in 1901.

Nearly 60 years passed before plans for a new distillery on the sparsely populated island took shape. Two locals, Robin Fletcher and Tony Riley-Smith, hoped a new distillery might bring a few jobs and tourists to their home and enlisted Welsh architect William Delmé-Evans to design the new place. Thanks to his ideas on energy conservation and efficiency, Delmé-Evans was already a well-known figure in the wave of modernization that was taking place in the world of Scotch whisky. He converted the brewery at Tullibardine into the distillery in the late 1940’s before signing on to create the new Jura, which began production in 1963. Indeed, Delmé-Evans stayed on as distillery manager until 1975. Today, Jura is part of the Whyte & Mackay  group of whiskies along with The Dalmore and the White & Mackay range of blends. Whyte & Mackay is in turn owned by the huge United Spirits, Ltd. The 10 Year Old is Jura’s entry-level malt and is aged almost  completely in ex-bourbon barrels with a smattering of ex-sherry cask aged stuff thrown in for good measure.

The Nose:  There’s a bit of young Island funk here, and no, I do not mean this (excellent) kind. Juicy grapes and applesauce mixed with faintly diesel-y, slightly musty, earthy brine…sweet but a little sour, too…think honey over a hard cheese. Behind that, young, slightly rough malt and wet wood. This noses a bit too spirity/solventy for my taste.

The Palate:  Nice, fairly oily mouthfeel with gingered honey to start, very quickly growing zippy, tingling, spirity, and hot. Becomes quite salty with crisp but coarse grain showing up early and an increasing, slightly sour dryness leading towards the finish. There’s not a lot of power to this, there’s not much backbone, the palate seems a little half-hearted.

The Finish: Lingering, salty, and drying, with more ginger and honey.

Thoughts:  Disappointing, really. I expected more and instead found this a bit too spirity throughout, with rather coarse, plodding grain and wood notes overshadowing the subtler notes. The nose was interesting but not always in a good way, I didn’t enjoy that hint of sour milk. Not a bad malt, but uninspired and not one I’d really recommend for the $45 (approx.) price.

Isle of Jura “Origin” 10 Year Old, Island (Jura)

43% ABV

Score: 74

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