Jura 1984 (30 Year Old)

Screen Shot 2015-08-11 at 14.59.15Distillery: Jura
Distilled: 1984, Bottled: 2014
ABV: 44%
Bottles: 1,984
Cask: American White Oak, Amoroso and Apostoles
More Info: WhiskyBase

“He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past.” — George Orwell, ‘1984’

Last year as Winter began to crank up, a strange presence appeared online. Twitter grew dark with strange and cryptic messages. The [REDACTED] was evident and soon [REDACTED] became clear.

Jura launched an extremely limited edition thirty year old expression, matured in some fantastically decadent sherry casks. This expression was in celebration of George Orwell’s masterpiece, “1984”, the dystopian novel in which Big Brother is always watching.

The book itself was written by Orwell in the 1940s while he enjoyed the tranquility and isolation of living on the Isle of Jura, an island less than half the area of Greater Manchester where there are 35 wild deer per permanent resident(!).*

The bottling itself is gorgeously presented with reference and homage to the author and the text itself. The sample itself came similarly adorned:

Jura Sample
Secret dossier, with whisky vial

Better get tasting anyhow – Big Brother is watching…

Nose: Herbal, spicy and syrupy. Cola cubes, floral dessert wine, banana loaf, juicy sultanas and dusty oak.

Palate: Deep, dark caramelised sugars – very reminiscent of spiced rum. Thick and luscious with more fruit and spice – cinnamon, raisins, nutmeg, dark cherry, figs and ginger.

Finish: Long, sweet, and spicy with drying oak.

Not your typical sherry bomb – there’s clearly a lot of cask influence but the sherry hasn’t imparted chocolatey/nutty notes; it’s much more a wine-laden affair with floral and herby high notes, complemented by the oak spice of thirty years in the barrel.

Rich, comforting, satisfying and different enough to be interesting without being weird or unbalanced.

Big brother approves – nice work, Jura.

This bottling retails for around £650 on WhiskyExchange. Thanks very much to Jura for the sample!

* In spite of a brush with death in the Corryvreckan whirlpool to the North of the island, Orwell completed his work and published it in 1949.
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Douglas Laing’s Rock Oyster

Those folks at Douglas Laing sure can put together an interesting blend.

I’ve been a big fan of Big Peat for a few years now, especially the Xmas edition*. Their other regional blends, Timorous Beastie (for the Highlands), and Scallywag (for Speyside) are less to my taste, but very well put together all-the-same.

This one looks right up my street – the new blend, Rock Oyster, comprised purely of whisky from Scotland’s Islands region. I’m expecting maritime, salty, peaty goodness here. Let’s go!

Nose: Leathery, damp sand, mud, brine. Very mineral rich and salt-crusted, with a hint of icing sugar.

Palate: Quite savoury. Lemon, bitter grapefruit, thyme, cloves, olives and a crisp, tangy smoke. There’s a biscuity element in there too, among the tangier notes, which comes through later. A little bit of honey, vanilla and flowers once the smoke’s died down but only a bit.

Finish: It starts off oily in the mouth and progresses to a drying, lip-smacking finish of salt, cured meat, and white pepper.

I think the name here is bang on – it’s like sitting in a rock pool while you smoke seafood over a beach-fire.

It’s certainly one of the most savoury whiskies I’ve had in a while – not much in the way of fruity, malty notes. Thick bodied, too, with wide legs ending in big beads. Looks like a higher strength dram than 46.8%.

Sleuthing out the Components

The distilleries aren’t listed like they are with the Big Peat but it’s worth a bash all the same…

I’m thinking there’s a good dose of Highland Park in here – the way they peat their own barley on the island imparts that savoury smoke and the distinctive drying, grainy quality on the finish.

Since Jura and Arran only have a single distillery each, those are easy conclusions to come to! Though I don’t get any of the toffee or tangerine that I usually get from those whiskies (respectively), so that’s unexpected. I suspect their contribution to the whisky is relatively small compared to the others.

Which leaves the Islay component…

It’s a very maritime whisky, rather than an out-and-out peaty profile. Ardbeg is earthier, Laphroaig more medicinal, and I can’t see Lagavulin or Kilchoman being easily available.

The texture isn’t right for Bruichladdich, and Bunnahabhain is usually very sweet so the overall palate wouldn’t be this savoury…

Add the salty, lemony, olive-oil characteristics into the mix and… I’d have to say it’s a Caol Ila.

And Finally…

I like this one a lot. It doesn’t blow your head off like Big Peat (although that experience is not unpleasant) so it’s a bit more accessible – a weeknight dram for the coastal whisky fan, rather than a late-night mood whisky for a smoke-headed lunatic.

I’m not a huge advocate of food-pairing with spirits usually, but I can totally see this being nice with seafood. Maybe a bowl of prawns or mussels… I must buy a bottle and do some more research!

The important question now is, when will Master of Malt’s Sam add the Rock Oyster to the Douglas Laing Crimefighting Force…?

* In fact, one of the highlights of the London Whisky Show for me was being given a Big-Peat pen projector that casts the face of the windswept hero into the distance like Batman’s Bat Light.

You can pick up a sample or a bottle of Rock Oyster over at Master of Malt for £37.82.