By Richard Thomas
Residents of the Isle of Jura are called “Diurachs,” and the 16 Year Old scotch from Isle of Jura distillery is billed as “The Diurachs’ Own,” the choice of the island. As such, it supposedly embodies the character of the islanders and the quirks of living there, such as the old legends, dramatic landscape and the sometimes harsh weather.
One of those old legends is that the old lord of the island banned independent distilling there. He held firm for almost 30 years, despite the irate response of Jura’s residents, until he was visited by the Dickens’ style ghost of an old lady, which scared him into lifting the ban. The 16 Year Old figures into this story because the distillery keeps a bottle of the stuff lodged in the cave said to be the home of that spirits-loving spirit, just in case.
Isle of Jura 16 Year Old scotch has a lovely mid-gold color, and is bottled at 40% alcohol. On the nose, the scotch is something like standing in a seaside stand of evergreen trees. The scent is quite woody, but more of fragrant cedar and pine than of oak, and with a brushing of sea spray. On the palate, the whiskey starts out as a syrupy, candied fruit cake, but ends with spicy oak. Despite that fiery note that ends the flavor, the finish is relatively light, going down as both earthy and salty.
The 16 Year Old is a bit pricey, even for a premium single malt. It is usually available for $65 a bottle in the United States. In the UK, it retails for about 40£, and on the Continent for about 50 euros.
Isle of Jura’s 16 Year Old initially won a silver at the 2008 International Spirits Challenge. The next year, the scotch garnered a score of 94 from the Beverage Testing Institute, and then a Gold – Best in Class at the 2010 International Wine and Spirits Competition.