Jura 18 year old
At the peak of the Jura distillery's core range (relaunched in mid-2018) sits the Isle of Jura 18 Year Old. This expression aged in American white oak ex-bourbon barrels before enjoying a finishing period in Premier Grand Cru Classé Bordeaux barrels, imparting a rich fruitiness.
Isle of Jura distillery
Jura is the only distillery located in the Isle of the same name. While illegal distillation took place for many years at the Isle a legal plant was only built in 1810 outside a cave in Craighouse. It is believed that David Simson (founder of Bowmore distillery) operated it in its early years. When the distillery opened it was called 'The Small Isles Distillery'. It used local barley dried with local peat. It is believed that the first Jura whiskies were as peaty and smokey as Ardbeg and Laphroaig.
The distillery operated unsuccessfully for most of its early existence. Its spirit was branded as being 'of doubtful reputation' by those who came across it. By the 1850's there were plans to sell the equipment for scrap. A last minute deal saved the rudimentary distillery when Glasgow based blender Mr. Buchanan. Sadly, this acquisition was not successful and The Small Isles Distillery was sold once again.
In 1876 a 34 year lease was signed by J. Fergusson & Sons of Glasgow. Under their ownership massive investment improved the facilities. Infrastructure to service the distillery was also built, a road, pier and bridge were promptly erected. The new lease holders did not get on well with their landlords and after bitter exchanges the Fergussons left the Island and took their equipment and matured stocks. A dispute on who had to repair the pier and maintain the harbour brought distillation in the island to an end.
After WWI, the inter-war period and WWII, the population of Jura had decreased from over 1000 to less than 150 people. Three locals using money from Scottish & Newcastle breweries and Charles Mackinlay & Co. blenders decided that, in order to stop young people from leaving the island, they would create a source of employment. Isle of Jura distillery started operations in 1963. This time lightly peated barley was being used.
The first single malt from this new distillery was released in 1974. Up until then, the vast majority of the spirit was being used for blending. Demand for peaty whisky pushed the distillery to produce a peated release called 'Superstition' in 2002. These days the distillery belongs to the Whyte & Mackay group. This group's parent company is Emperador brands from the Philippines.
Many Jura whiskies have a maritime character with hints of salt. This is achieved by using a short fermentation period, lantern-shaped stills and the usage of ex-sherry casks.