Review: Royal Mile Whiskies Jura 23 years old


There are highs and lows during an ongoing appreciation of whisky and then there is Jura. This is my nemesis. Over the years I’ve managed to locate and experience some fine whiskies from Glenkinchie, Bowmore, Auchentoshan and yes, even Tullibardine. So I  remain optimistic and retain an open mind that one day there will be a drinkable Jura to appreciate; a colleague did suggest that whisky from Jura only comes alive after 30 years. There is an urban myth that Berry Brothers & Rudd did release a good one if you can find a bottle...

Although some of my Jura jokes are in jest, it is a train of thought shared by many I know. The official range is surprisingly popular at retail and is often lauded by Richard Paterson, yet my own experiences with the official output are very disappointing to say the least. Generally this isn’t a surprise as the distillery range is tightly controlled for consistency and any of the delightful variations are left to the independents with their single cask editions. This rule applies to all distilleries and the majority of my purchases nowadays are from independent bottlers such as Cadenheads who release at cask strength, no colouring and no chill-filtration. Simple rule is if you’re bored by official releases from a distillery then go down the independent route for new experiences and appreciation.

Bottled at 23 years of age by Royal Mile Whiskies this was a surprise gift from Linh and Alex for spending a day taking them around a couple of distilleries. I made a few Jura comments on our travels so this welcome bottle was a chance to revaluate the enigma that is Jura whisky. Even the Jolly Toper who is the manager of the Royal Mail Whisky branch commented it was a thumbs up and to hide a dram of it amongst a usual tasting session. That way he suggested any Jura preconceptions would be minimised. Given its age I have to say this is a fair price from Royal Mile Whiskies for this single cask release, before you delve into the contents.

Oh how I have tried let me tell you. This bottle has been tasted on its own, amongst an assortment of whiskies and I even took it along to a recent meeting of Harris Cask owners and watched the reactions of those who took a dram from the bottle; then gauged their opinion of it. In the end this whisky has been given more chances than most to shine.

Distillery: Jura
Distilled: 22nd November 1990
Bottled: June 2014 (23 years old)
Strength: 52.4% vol
Cask: hogshead number 6406
Outturn: 251 bottles
Price: £79.95
Additional: matured on Jura it says on the label

Colour: caramelised bananas

Nose: a sharpness initially almost lemon Jif in its concentrated arrival. With a fair degree of water this evaporates and you're left with creamy fudge. Moving on I picked up the sweetness and lightness of icing sugar, some creamed corn and banana chewits. Then after more time stale bread and a real hard earthy cheddar cheese. Back with the water; more herbal notes come through given time. Well, that's an interesting set of nosing notes isn't it?

Taste: the first time I tasted this Jura I remember distinctly thinking it tastes a little rough around the edges for its age and lacks the complexity I would have expected. Moving into double dramming figures for this bottle this impression is hard to shake off. 

The harshness of melon followed by Lyle Golden Syrup straight from the tin with that added metallic finish. A little melted butter and most annoying with water and left alone for wee while I'm getting a soapy finish.

I'm very disappointed that such a wonderful gesture has resulted in such a collection of tasting notes. I've tried really hard to like this Jura but it just isn't very palatable. 

The easy route would have been to write a benign review thereby not offending those who provided me with this bottle, but that isn't being true to myself or to anyone that reads this review. Seeing magazines, official literature, blogs and comments its hard to believe sometimes that there is such a thing as a bad or bland whisky; everything is scored very highly and gushing praise is dished out like sweeties. That's not my style and I cannot recommend this whisky, however my quest for the Jura will continue.

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