Isle of Jura “Diurach’s Own” 16 Year Old – Review

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

According to the distillery’s legend, in 1781, Jura’s Laird, one Archibald Campbell, being none too keen on the locals making their own hooch willy-nilly all over the island, enacted a ban on all distilling. As you might imagine, this didn’t go over too well with the populace, but ol’ Archie was a man of deep conviction and stood firm. At least he did for 29 years until one night in 1810 when a ghostly apparition of an old woman came to him and in what one can only imagine were less than soothing tones, demanded the return of whisky to the thirsty island. It didn’t take much to spook Laird Archie, and since he was also probably pretty tired of not having any booze around himself, he took this as a pretty serious sign to lift the ban on distilling and promptly built the first Jura distillery near a cave in Craighouse.

Having not been visited by ghostly old ladies in my sleep, it’s difficult for me to comment accurately on this legend. My guess is that it probably wasn’t a ghost at all, more likely just Mrs. Archie Campbell finally reaching the end of her teetotalling rope and demanding the Laird lighten up and live a little. The idea that Archie could mistake his wife for a ghost might lead one to believe that maybe Archie was deep into his own stash of illicit hooch…that, or he and his wife didn’t see each other all that often. Either way, distilling was restored, Jura was built, and today they honor this legend by keeping a bottle of Isle of Jura 16 Year Old in that cave, just in case that old ghost comes back thirsty again. I keep several bottles of whisky around the house just in case my dad comes back.

The Nose:  Initially, I found this a rather simple nose, but it didn’t take long to open up and reveal a bit more. Caramel and chocolate covered fruit notes mingle with fresh sawdust and salted nuts. Soft polished oak notes also seem a touch briney with just a faint hint of the sourness found in the 10 Year Old, tho’ here it’s a more welcome counterpoint to the sweeter notes.

The Palate:  A syrupy, caramel-y entry, full of toasted bread and candied nuts at first. A zippy, briney, saltiness grows quickly, followed by deeper, drying, spicy oak notes with ginger, clove and white pepper. Feels a little numbing and hot in the mouth towards the end.

The Finish:  There’s a lingering sweet earthiness that’s tannic and drying, growing a bit saltier as it fades.

Thoughts:  This is quite an improvement over the 10 Year Old. The rough, sour graininess has been replaced by smoother, sweeter notes that make for a deeper,  more muscular, more complex dram. That said, it doesn’t quite have the depth or strength of other 15 – 18 year olds on the market and the saltiness and spirity wood dominate just a bit too much towards the end. All in all, a fairly decent malt, but not necessarily worth the price.

Isle of Jura “Diurach’s Own” 16  Year Old, Island, Jura

43% ABV

Score:  82

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