The Single Cask Whisky Review #50: Isle of Jura 1998 15 Years Old

January 22, 2017

The Single Cask Whisky Review #50: Isle of Jura 1998 15 Years Old

This week's review focuses on an expression from the Isle of Jura distillery, which has gained a passionate following over the years and is even the 3rd best selling single malt whisky brand in the UK behind Glenmorangie and Glenfiddich.

The Isle of Jura distillery was founded in 1810 by Archibald Campbell under the name of Small Isles distillery and remained in the Campbell family until 1853, when it was leased to Norman Buchanan from Glasgow.

Buchanan ran the distillery until his bankruptcy in 1867 and the licence was first transferred to J & K Orr before being transferred to James Ferguson & Sons in 1876.

Ferguson proceeded to dismantle the distillery 1901 but when Charles Mackinlay & Co took over the distillery some years later, they proceeded to resurrect the distillery and even extended it in 1960. Charles Mackinlay & Co. were themselves taken over by the newly formed Scottish & Newcastle Breweries company and the first distillation after the extension took place in 1963.

In 1985, Invergordon Distillers acquired Charles Mackinlay & Co. from Scottish & Newcastle Breweries and the deal included both the Isle of Jura and Glenallachie distilleries. Invergordon Distillers were themselves acquired 8 years later by Whyte & Mackay, who proceeded to change their name to JBB (Greater Europe) in 1996.

A management buyout in 2001 saw the company name changed once again to Kyndal and the following year saw Jura release their famous Superstition expression. Kyndal then reverted to their previous name, Whyte & Mackay, in 2003 and marked the occasion with the release of Isle of Jura 1984.

United Spirits then purchased Whyte & Mackay in 2007 and the company remained under their control until 2013, when Diageo purchased a majority stake in the company. However, the Office of Fair Trading were weary of a potential monopoly in the spirits industry and forced Diageo to divest at least part or all of Whyte & Mackay in order to prevent anti-trust issues.

This caused Diageo to consider holding on to the Dalmore, Jura and Tamnavulin distilleries while divesting the rest of the company, but in the end, all of Whyte & Mackay was sold to the largest producer of brandy in the world, Emperador Inc of the Philippines the following year.

The popularity of Jura has caused Emperador to consider expanding the distillery and even consider building a second distillery adjacent to the original in the years to come in order to keep up with demand.

This week's review focuses on a 15 Years Old expression of Jura which was distilled in 1998 and bottled in 2014 at 46% abv by independent bottlers Dun Bheagan.

Isle of Jura 1998 15 Years Old (Bottled by Dun Bheagan, 46% abv)

Colour: Gold

Nose: Initial entry presents some sweet malt and dry oak coupled with a hint of sea salt, kippers and lemon peel. Some cinnamon and citrus notes emerge after some time to augment the other elements.

Palate: The sweet malt detected on the nose makes an appearance early on, but it is rather restrained. Sea salt, grapefruit juice, cinnamon, black pepper and pecan nuts intermingle with the dry oak and kippers from the nose rather well.

Finish: Medium to long on the finish, with the dry oak becoming more pronounced while allowing from some late developing honey and grapefuit juice to linger to the very end.

Balance: A relatively well balanced dram which allows for a fair bit of complexity and nuance to be showcased while allowing for the typical Jura sweet-salty-spicy combo to be central to the proceedings.

This expression of Jura can be purchased by the bottle or the dram for in-bar consumption or by the bottle for retail/takeaway purposes. Please approach our friendly staff and they will be more than happy to assist you.

Written By Brendan Pillai for The Single Cask 


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