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Thursday, 5 August 2010

Judge and Jura

"How are you feeling this morning?"

"Me? I’m doing just fine, thanks."

Actually, I’m not. But why do we always say that we are?

It’s a very British thing to brush aside such a deep and probing question with a glib “yeah, I’m okay” bog standard answer. The truth is, I didn’t sleep very well last night. I tried, I really did. I got an early night. I had fresh bed sheets on. I even went to gym in the day to tire myself out. But (and this doesn’t happen very often), I just couldn't sleep. After a while I gave up and watched Sherlock on BBC iPlayer for 90 min, which probably didn’t help as every gust of wind which caught my curtains, I assumed was a ninja ready to attack me as they continued their search for a lost £9m hair pin. Anyway, I digress...

This morning, I’m shattered. Really tired and it’s only the middle of the week! What I need is a perk to get me going. Something to bring me back to life. Let’s have a look what’s in the cupboard. Options are thus:



Tick Tock (rooibos tea)

Ribena (Hot or Cold)


I opt for a nice cup of tea. How very British of me!

A few hours later, however I’m flagging again. Bored of tea and almost certainly not in the mood for coffee, I’m wondering what wonderful remedy could wake me from my half-slumber. And then I get an email with the answer in it.

It simply read: “Did you hear the crazy Jura story that was on the radio on Saturday night? Have a listen and a giggle to this one...” and contained the following attachment (click here):

Luckily, in the cabinet downstairs I have a bottle of Jura Superstition and sitting on my desk are some wee little sample bottles, which were sent over last week. The contents? Some Jura whisky! If this stuff can bring a chicken back to life, then it must be useful on me...!?!

The three small bottles are samples of the Jura Boutique Barrel series which, their press release informs us, are three unique offerings A First Fill Bourbon, a Heavily Peated Bourbon cask and an Oloroso Sherry cask.

First off however, let’s have a look at a standard expression of Jura, the Superstition, a peated version of their whisky:

Jura – Superstition – 43% Vol

Nose: A whiff of smoke (a mix of peat of peat and wood smoke) and then notes of old oak and a big, sweet sherry hit. The sweetness of nose lingers over the initial hit of smoke with the headline fruit being apricot.

Palate: Not so much smoke on the palate, it takes a back seat allowing the wood notes (this time fresh pine), the fruit and some hickory notes to appear. Quite dry and oily, it almost seems to roll up into a ball on your tong.

Finish: Wood polish, some smoke, sweet cure bacon and hints of oak at the death.

Overall: A fine whisky with a good mix of smoke and oak, but a tad heavy on the sherry for me and a slightly artificial taste. At £26 this is a pretty decent dram for the money, if you want mild smoke and rich sherry.

Let’s move on to the new release Boutique Barrels and start with the Oloroso Sherry Cask.

Jura – “JI” - Boutique Barrel Series – Sherry cask - 1993 - 54% - £75

Nose: Ahhh! Now there is that “honesty” which you want from a sherry barrel. Immediately you get a rush of dusty old books, church pews, stewed prunes toffee apple, brewing coffee and ginger. A real, honest nose from a sherry cask with a hint of menthol on the back.

Palate: Rich and crisp with ryvita and brown bread. There is also a hint of copper as you swirl and chew- like a good rye bread with honey on.

Finish: warm and spicy but soft and chewy. Plenty of cinnamon and toffee with some light orange notes. Really lovely.

Overall: A fine expression of a well sherried whisky that does everything well. Dusty without being over-old, and chewy and oliy without being too sweet.

Next up comes the Bourbon Cask.

Jura – “JO” - Boutique Barrel Series – Sherry cask - 1995 - 56.5% - £65

Nose: Butterscotch. Red apples, vanilla ice cream and strawberry sauce. This has taken a lot from the cask!

Palate: Oooh, some lovely spices and drying oak notes. Very lively and malty. Gammon in cider, baked in the oven with cloves in.

Finish: Dry, long and malty again with a slight hint of liquorice on the back palate.

Overall: What about this, huh? A complex dram that won’t be to everyones tastes. It’s quite up front with big flavours and will shove them in your face. Not a subtle dram at all.

Finally, let’s have a go on their “heavily peated” Bourbon cask...

Jura – “XU” – Boutique Barrel Series – Bourbon Cask – Heavily Peated – 55% - £55

Nose: Well, it’s peated but I’m not sure how “heavily”. I support Oxford United who, having won promotion from the football conference in to the football league last season could be called a “successful” team. But Man Utd they’re not. And this is peated, but it isn’t Supernova! Still, the nose is lovely – a kin to Lagavulin 16 (in fact.. let’s pour a dram of this to compare- Wow, they really are very similar. The Jura has more “musty” feel to it and is less sweet which must be due to an absence of sherry barrels). Really a very good nose which is both soft and inviting, yet peaty and warming. Yummy!

Palate: Peat smoke sits for a very long time and once this soft and delicate fire subsides there are elements of straw, hazelnuts and warm, fresh baked brown bread. Super, super flavours.

Finish: Just the right length being warming and lingering without outstaying its welcome.

Overall: this is my pick of the bunch. It’s the youngest and the cheapest, but I’d take this bottle any day of the week.