The Jura distillery is located on the Hebredean isle of Jura and was founded in 1810 by Archibald Campbell. It was originally called the Small Isles distillery after the numerous islands located in Craighouse Bay, which the distillery sits on and overlooks. It was closed for a long period between 1901 and 1960, at which point it was rebuilt using a design by renowned post-War distillery architect William Delmé-Evans. It was only then renamed as Jura.
Production restarted in 1963 and it has been operating ever since. The distillery has an annual production capacity of just over two million litres and is currently owned by Whyte & Mackay, who took control in 1993. Under their ownership the brand has seen sales grow massively, especially in the last 10 years.
The Jura 21 years old Tide is bottled at 46.7% ABV and is available globally. A bottle should cost around the £150 ($185 US) mark. It is joined by another 21 years old expression named Time and this is exclusive to the travel retail sector. For further information on Jura or any of their whiskies, please visit www.jurawhisky.com.
Our tasting notes
The coloir is a deep golden yellow and the nose is rich and immediately fragrant. There are aromas of toffee, caramel and waxy honeycomb along with a robust malty biscuit-like quality. Underneath are further aromas of milk chocolate, gingerbread and cookie dough, plus hints of golden syrup and all-spice.
On the palate this whisky has a rich and viscous feel. It is initially sweet and then the heavier malty and spicy notes from the nose begin to develop. The sweetness is led by golden syrup and caramel notes with further notes of heather honey, milk chocolate and sweet almonds underneath. The robust malt grows and becomes very biscuity with plenty of earthy cereal notes present. This goes hand in hand with warming wood and baking spices - think of freshly sawn oak, ginger powder, cinnamon, all-spice and pinches of clove, white pepper and cocoa. A soft, sweet and gentle peat smoke drifts amongst all the elements and adds incredible depth and complexity.
The finish is long and warming with the peat smoke coming more to the fore than at any other stage. This is supported by a distinct chocolate note and the robust maltiness from the palate and nose. The combination is reminiscent of chocolate digestive biscuits. As the sweeter characteristics fade, the spices come forward and work in unison with the smoke to give warmth and dryness.
What's the verdict?
The Jura 21 years old Tide is a lovely whisky and one of the oldest from the distillery on the market. Old Juras are rare and do appear, but this shows what is available and at a reasonable price. The depth and richness, which is backed up by sweet peat smoke and warming spices, is fabulous and makes you want to reach for another glass when you have finished. A good pinnacle to the current Jura core range and well worth a try.