Welcome to the Isle of Jura
There’s something about the wild mountains, peaceful lochs and stormy seas of the Inner Hebrides of Scotland. Unspoilt, sparse and barely populated but stunningly beautiful, is a theme spanning the breadth of the west coast of Scotland with the Atlantic Ocean lapping against its shores. Last month Ape were invited to the Isle of Jura, a 30-mile-long and seven-mile-wide island nestling by these wild waters of the Atlantic and home to serene bays, seals and sea eagles. And despite a population of just 196 inhabitants (recorded in the 2011 census) it’s also a hive of production and craft – home to the equally magical Jura Single Malt Whisky distillery.
Jura Whisky and Getting Creative
The reason? Jura Single Malt Whisky brought together a group of likeminded makers, creators and men’s style commentators from different industries to experience the unique spirit of its island home, while creating new communities of friends and sparking interesting conversation over a glass of whisky (or two). We were invited to take a seat at Jura’s Long Table, for a dinner designed around collaboration, creative endeavour and good conversation.
Ape’s own journey began with a tour of the distillery, followed by a delicious dinner at the quaint Jura Hotel located at the islands’ epicentre; Craighouse. The distillery is as you might expect – rich with time-tested manufacturing processes and equipment, and Jura-dedicated staff whom live and breathe the brand. All working towards producing the uniquely delicious Jura range of whiskies.
The following day we took a tour bus and later on, a boat tour, around the island, exploring the hidden gems Jura is only to happy to reveal to its visitors. From breathtaking views across the Sound of Jura, to its calm lochs and friendly stags resting on the sands of one of Jura’s typical sandy beaches. It’s a place where phone signal is sparse, where one can truly recharge the metaphorical batteries and breathe in deep, lung-satisfying breaths of unpolluted Hebridean air. It’s also the inspiration for the new collection of travel exclusive Jura whiskies (only available at duty free). A collection we sampled at each corresponding site of inspiration on the island…
Jura – The Sound
Featuring a balance of subtle smoke and intense sweetness. Inspiration: “Approaching the island by water looks innocuous on a map – but looks can be deceiving. The sound of Jura’s northern strait is home to the Gulf of Corryvreckan: a notorious whirlpool lying in wait for the unwary. The gift carton showcases this body of water and brings to life the Islands elemental palette.”
- Colour: Antique gold
- Nose: Aromas of roasted hazelnuts, orange and maple syrup
- Taste: Caramel fudge, black forest fruits and milk chocolate
- Cask Finish: Matured in American White Oak ex-bourbon barrels and enhanced by a sweet finish from hand-selected Pedro Ximénez Sherry casks that previously held 15 year old Pedro Ximénez Sherry wines
Jura – The Road
Featuring a rich and rounded style of subtle smoke and warming Pedro Ximénez Sherry. Inspiration: “On Jura, there is only one road to navigate by. Emerging out of the wilderness, the long, overgrown trail traces the shoreline heading south and leading to the Distillery. This winding island road features on the gift carton.”
- Colour: Autumn gold
- Nose: Aromas of fresh apricots, bergamot and molasses
- Taste: Rich coffee, toasted pistachios and cinnamon
- Cask Finish: Matured in American White Oak ex-bourbon barrels and enhanced with a warm finish from hand-selected Pedro Ximénez Sherry casks that previously held 20 year old Pedro Ximénez Sherry wines
Jura – The Bay
Featuring the balance and depth of subtle smoke and warming Pedro Ximénez Sherry. Inspiration: “Sheltered by a string of islands, the bay is where the islanders meet the sea. White sands in the north, the jetty overlooked by the distillery in the south, life around the bay is marked by the coming and going of the tides. Our beautiful bay can be seen on the front of the gift carton.”
- Colour: Copper gold
- Nose: Toffee apple
- Taste: Raisins, fig, ginger spice and soft liquorice
- Cask Finish: Matured in American White Oak ex-bourbon barrels and enhanced with a warm finish from hand-selected Sherry casks which previously held fifteen years old Pedro Ximénez Sherry wines.
Jura – The Loch
Explore the rich indulgence of 30 Year Old single estate Pedro Ximénez Sherry, with refined smoky notes. Inspiration: “Market Loch, found 1000ft above sea level, its importance to our Distillery cannot be understated. A serene and almost spiritual place; these pure waters bring our whisky to life. Photographed in spring and showcased on our gift carton.”
- Colour: Mahogany gold
- Nose: Aromas of treacle cake, baked apple and praline
- Taste: Black coffee, tropical fruit salad and cracked pepper
- Cask Finish: Matured in American White Oak ex-bourbon barrels and enhanced by a rich finish from hand-selected Pedro Ximénez Sherry casks that previously held 30 years old Pedro Ximénez Sherry wine, from a single estate Jerez bodega
Jura – The Paps – 18 Year Old
Savour the rare complexity of mature Pedro Ximénez Sherry and our aged island Single Malt Scotch Whisky. Inspiration: “At journey’s end in the heart of our island, you’ll find them: The Sacred Mountain, The Mountain of the Sound and The Mountain of Gold. These are The Paps of Jura which tower over the landscape for miles around, commanding respect from islander and traveller alike.”
- Colour: Deep mahogany gold
- Nose: Powerful aromas of ginger cake, vanilla and balsamic
- Taste: Spiced pear, fig syrup and roasted walnut
- Cask Finish: Matured for 19 years in American White Oak ex-bourbon barrels and enhanced by a complex finish from hand-selected Pedro Ximénez Sherry casks that previously held 40 years old Pedro Ximénez Sherry wines
The Long Table
After a day of exploration, whisky tasting and mindfulness – we headed back to the Jura Hotel for a quick turnaround before the trips’ main event. Dinner at the Long Table. Which, as before – was a dinner designed around collaboration, creative endeavour and good conversation. The guest list included some great people, a few of them below;
- Archie Proudfoot – a super talented and creative artist and sign painter
- Tom Daxon – Founder of the incredible Tom Daxon Fragrances brand
- Tom Webster – Co-founder of GrowUp Urban Farms
- Briony Cullin – of the delicious Dear Green Coffee company
- Andy Gemmel – owner of the highly creative The Drink Cabinet agency
- Christopher Coates – whisky expert and writer at Whisky Magazine
- Nicola Young – the fountain of whisky knowledge at Whisky Boys
- Brian Sweeney – the photographer, and great bloke full of character
Jura – Journey
The perfect introduction to a world of Jura flavour, subtle smoke and sweetness in perfect balance. Matured in American White Oak ex-bourbon barrels.
- Colour: Amber gold
- Nose: Aromas of vanilla spice, citrus and a hint of light smoke
- Taste: Cinnamon, pears, pecans and toffee fudge
- Cask Finish: Jura Journey is matured in American White Oak ex-bourbon barrels
Jura – 10 Year Old
A trademark 10 Year Old malt whisky for the modern drinker; smooth smoky sherry sweetness. A whisky only Jura could make, born on the Isle of Jura and still produced today in a bottle originally shaped to withstand the roughest of journeys from Jura. Crafted in exceptionally tall stills, matured for 10 years in America White Oak ex-bourbon barrels and the fresh sea air with a further enhancement from the finest aged Oloroso Sherry casks from Jerez, Spain.
- Colour: Copper gold
- Nose: Aromas of fruit, cracked pepper and dark chocolate
- Taste: Nectarines, ginger and freshly ground coffee
- Cask Finish: Jura 10 Year Old is matured in American White Oak ex-bourbon barrels with an aged Oloroso Sherry cask finish
Jura – 12 Year Old
A modern classic aged 12 years. Reassuringly rich with smoky sherry sweetness.
- Colour: Golden-hued
- Nose: Refined succulent tropical aromas of chocolate, walnut and citrus fruit
- Taste: Flavours of honey, salted bananas and brown sugar, with a whisper of smoke
- Cask Finish: Matured in American White Oak ex-bourbon barrels for 12 years and finished in Oloroso Sherry casks from Jerez, Spain
Jura – Seven Wood
Ingeniously crafted from seven different oak cask types for a multi-layered flavour. A complex single malt – a fitting tribute to Jura’s Master Blender’s skill – having been shaped by seven separate Oak woods: first-fill ex-bourbon American White Oak, Vosges, Bertranges, Jupilles, Allier, Tronçais & Limousin barrels.
- Colour: Mahogany gold
- Nose: An aromatic fusion of coffee, ginger spice and a hint of milk chocolate
- Taste: Caramelised peach, chewy liquorice and candied orange with a hint of sea-spray and smoke
- Cask Finish: Jura Seven Wood has been shaped by seven separate Oak woods: first-fill ex-bourbon American White Oak, Limousin, Troncais, Allier, Vosges, Jupilles and Les Bertranges barrels
Jura – 18 Year Old
A timeless 18 Year Old malt whisky finished in red wine casks, guaranteed to complete any collection/ Matured for eighteen long years in American White Oak ex-bourbon barrels and enriched by superior Premier Grand Cru Classé Bordeaux barrels.
- Colour: Rosewood gold
- Nose: Aromas of toffee, tropical fruits and cinnamon
- Taste: Flavours of rich black forest fruit, cocoa and coffee
- Cask Finish: Matured for eighteen long years in American White Oak ex-bourbon barrels and enriched by superior Premier Grand Cru Classé Bordeaux barrels
We were served up deliciously creative cocktails using Jura whisky from the brands core range (feature above, and available in supermarkets and whisky shops) and local ingredients sourced by The Drinks Cabinet. To compliment; food was locally sourced, and was indescribably tasty. But beyond that it was all about the conversation – the room abuzz with idea generation, energy and creative discussion. I have to say, it was a real honour to have been invited. Inspired not only by the Isle of Jura but also the creative people I spent two days getting to know.
Visit jurawhisky.com for more information on the core range and travel exclusive Jura whiskies.