August 26, 2014

Jura Tastival - enjoy the journey, savour the taste!

A crow could fly from Glasgow to Jura in no time. It's about 60 miles away. For whisky loving mortals, it takes a wee bit longer and involves a nice little five minute ferry ride across the Sound of Islay, followed by a 20 minute journey along "the" road to Craighouse, where Jura Distillery is located.
Jura is larger than Islay, but has a population of only about 200 people, and around 6000 deer. Indeed Jura is Norse for deer island.
Time passes slowly on Jura
Purportedly, whisky has been made on Jura since the early 16th century and the present distillery was established in 1810. After a closure of over forty years, it was reopened in 1963 as part of a plan to revitalize the island, as the population had dropped to about 150. Now a thriving distillery, with a great selection of whisky tourist events, four large, tall stills, and a wide selection of expressions, Jura Distillery is very much back in action.
With close proximity to Islay, it makes perfect sense to offer up a special Jura Day during Feis Ile week, with free shuttles, a complimentary tasting bar, free guided tours of the distillery, and a range of tasting experiences including Whisky on the Waves, Dramming in the Dark with Master Distiller, Richard Paterson, and the Jura Tastival event, a multi sensory experience, which was both innovative and delicious.  The tasting bar was generously set up with six fine Jura expressions, all complimentary, all day long. On the Tastival menu, as it was dubbed, were the 10 year old Original, Turas-Mara (the Duty Free offering), the delicious 2014 Festival bottling, Duirachs own 16 year old, Superstition and Elixir. Tasters were invited to explore the whiskies, create their own tasting notes, post them on boards around the tasting room and tweet them using #JuraTastival.
This was a great collection to explore.
10yo 40%ABV, ex Bourbon casks. Citrus fruit, honey, cloves, hint of smoke, nice!
Turas-Mara 42%ABV, matured in casks from different geographical regions to reflect the Turas-Mara (long journey) story. Creamy vanilla, honey, cherries, dried fruit, very nice!
Tastival 2014 Festival Bottle 44%ABV, matured in seven different oak finishes. Rich and bursting with aromas and flavours. Delicious for me. A bottle is now in my collection.
Duirachs own 16 year old 40%ABV, matured in sherry and bourbon casks. Herbal aspects on the nose with aniseed, dried fruits and toffee; marmalade and spicy to taste; long, tasty finish. A classic.
Superstition 43%ABV, NAE but likely 8 or 9 years old, mixture of peated and unpeated whiskies matured in bourbon casks. Youthful, light smoke, heather honey, spice. Currently one of three available at LCBO (plus 21year old and Elixir) $60
Elixir 12 yo, 40%, matured in bourbon and sherry casks. Fruity and spicy. $60 at LCBO
We spent quite a bit of time at the Tasting Bar, wandering around the distillery and enjoying its prime location on the water, and generally drinking in the atmosphere. My non whisky drinking sister was starting to reckon that she could quite like this "stuff". It was time for lunch at The Antlers Restaurant, just up the road - a fine little place with a great selection of well prepared, homemade food. Mine involved Cullen Skink and a venison burger. Yum!
After lunch, it was back to Jura for our afternoon session with Ambassadors, Graham and Anthony. With friendly enthusiasm, knowledge, and an obvious passion for the job, they led us through a "multi sensory adventure" comprising a tasting of four expressions, with some well selected items to nose and taste, and a beautiful artistic video presentation, all intended to assail the senses and evoke favourable memories to accompany the drams.
With a special festival beer, cold brewed coffee, amazing chocolates, seaweed crisps, a layered dessert and several other interesting morsels, we experienced our way through Origin, Duirachs Own, Prophecy and Superstition. It mattered not a whit that we had already tasted them at the bar. It was all delightful!
Next up we toured the Distillery, sniffed around the washback, had a look in a warehouse, and heard about the distillery history and production processes. Then it was off to the shop to pick up some bottles, where I was delighted to catch up with Rachel MacNeill, she of Wild and Magic and Whisky for Girls, who's now also the very capable Visitor Centre Manager, with all kinds of great plans for future activities.
With yet another dram in hand, we four (me, my husband, sis, bro-in-law) queued up for the next shuttle back to the ferry, and the drive back to Port Charlotte (courtesy of the dd for the day).
You know you're on a wee Jura to Islay ferry during Feis Ile when you see this kind of sign.
The car was custom designed for carrying a dram back for my other bro', the culinary king who was back in the cottage cooking up a delicious post tasting dinner.

GrapeScot Islay and Jura Tour 2015

We'll be visiting Jura Distillery for a great experience during the whisky tour to Islay (and Jura) in late August 2015. This will be a small group experience with terrific events at each of the distilleries, an opportunity to meet some wonderful whisky people, great accommodations, transportation, food, cultural activities and some very fine whisky. To find out more, please drop me a line and I'll send you the itinerary and details.

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SlĂ inte!