It's once again that time of year when the drinks world goes bonkers for the Christmas rush. Easing out single casks, limited editions runs or new blends, it's a great time to be interested in whisky as we begin to see the fruits that the collective creative brains in the industry have been cultivating for months, possibly even years.
A lot of these expressions will be 'here today, gone (on eBay) tomorrow' bottles and as the balloon that is demand rises, so the cost of holding on to these offerings increases as the string gets longer. We only have to look at the effect of supply and demand on the annual Port Ellen release to see this example played out in Technicolor.
But every-so-often around this time of year, someone sneaks out a whisky which will just sit quietly in the range and not make too much of a fuss over itself. And this is exactly what has happened over at Jura. Except this isn't just any average teenage newbie.
No, Sir. This is a 30 Year Old offering.
Named 'Standing Stone', the whisky takes its name from the largest of eight standing stones on the island where the whisky is made. Standing 12-foot high, it is all that is left of a 3,000 year old stone circle. That means this whisky, at 30 years old, is just 1% of the age of the stone which is depicted on the bottle. And we thought this hooch was elderly...
The whisky itself is matured in ex-American oak barrels and then finished in Oloroso Sherry butts from Gonzalez Byass. It will come housed in a display case, with the bottle being in-filled with copper wax and a matching metal plate containing all the details. It'll set you back 350 of your Great British Pounds.
Jura - Standing Stone - 30 Years old - 44% abv
Nose: The first aroma to hit the nose is like opening a fresh packet of high quality granola; this gives some cereal tones, a hint of coconut, lots of raisins and dried fruits (esp. apricot). Beneath that is a hint of peat smoke and then the real finger print for me of Jura, which is a copper tone, like standing next to a blazing hot still in operation.
Palate: A big initial hit of apricot, which develops a meatier mouthfeel and gives off some light candy flavours, sweet cured bacon and toasted pine nuts. The smoke emerges along with a copper tone again, giving the big mouthfeel a surprisingly light undertone. With water the palate opens up to greater sherry elements and more polished oak. A lot of energy for a whisky this age.
Finish: Some spices and chillies, there are hints of liquorice powder, orris root and crystallised ginger. Lovely soft-smoky end to it all.
Overall: This is certainly a Jura but with the extra 'oomph' of long maturation and the finish in a very good sherry cask to really give the beast some additional energy and complexity on the palate. Belittles its age. If you like Jura, you'll be in for a real treat with this one. It Jura XO.
So there you have it. A whisky which has been added to the very top end of the Jura range, but just quietly gets on with being a really great example of a well-aged and complex Isle of Jura offering. Less of a standing stone, this is certainly more Mick Jagger than Oblix.