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The Isle of Jura distillery

Isle of Jura

If you enjoy solitude, white sandy beaches and the deep turquoise waters that give Jura the allure of the northern Seychelles, this place is made for you. As an added bonus, you’ll often see the majestic surf leaping over the corners of the island’s only road that leads north. Jura’s name comes from the island’s deer and not its paps, and thus is completely unconnected to the Jura mountain range in France, and simply comes from the Norse word for deer.

It was in this wild refuge that George Orwell chose to write his novel ‘1984’, in the very north of the island, near the roaring Corryvreckan whirlpool that arouses so much fear in passing sailors. So why is there a distillery in such an environment? Because of the purity of its water and undoubtedly because it provided work for a population that numbered over a thousand people at the end of 19th century, a community that has now been reduced to just 200 inhabitants all gathered around Craighouse, the “hub” of Jura, where you’ll find the local shop, the hotel and the distillery.

The stills were designed to produce a light spirit because, since its creation, Jura’s purpose has been to supply malt for the blends. It continues this role most notably for the Whyte & Mackay and Mackinlay blends. Because of this, Isle of Jura is often likened to the Speyside malts, with its marine character playing only a minor role in its taste and aroma profile. It recently expanded its range of bottlings, even including various peated versions of the malt. Under the guidance of the group’s charismatic Master Blender Richard Paterson, the distillery has seen a huge amount of experimentation with maturation. Some of the most interesting of these experiments use “Mathusalem” oloroso sherry casks and French oak barrels. Jura has a trick or two up its sleeve yet.