Happy Birthday to me, happy birthday to me..... and to celebrate it I have just been presented with this, a bottle of Jura malt whisky, by the Hon Mr and Mrs Percy Cowpat (no less). This 'gift of the spirit' is not one I've tried before, and it's always a pleasure to open a new bottle, pour just a smidgeon into a quaich and then inhale deeply through the nose over it, to get a delicious foretaste into what lies ahead.
In this case I was surprised by what I smelt. The other island whiskies I have tasted contain a hefty snort of peat and smoke to the nose, whether it's the clean, flavoursome Bowmore, the perfectly balanced caramel complexity of Bruichladdich, full-on assault of Lagavulin or the spices of Talisker that is evapourating towards the nostrils! Jura, though smelled light, delicate, more like honey than caramel, and almost entirely devoid of the dragon-qualities of some of its nearby Islay neighbours. I was intrigued.
On the palate Jura turned out to be exactly as its odour had indicated, light, delicate, almost heathery more than peaty, and tasting quite similar I thought to Dalwhinnie, that other gentle Highland spirit. The other notable absence from the taste was the sea. Other west-coasters, like the Islays or Oban are given an edge to their taste-profile with a whiff of sea salt which has been absorbed by the barrels. In its place in the Jura I tasted a softness from the (presumably sherry?) casks akin to the standard-finish Glenmorangies.
What do I make of it? Well to my very amateur taste buds, this is a rather pleasant whisky which makes a delightfully quaffable pre-dinner drink, as it sparkles and delights the drinker with its clean, delicate, sweetness; rather than beguiling the taste-buds with challenges and complexities. A mouthfull of Bruichladdich I can play with for ages, feeling and finding different ranges of tastes and textures within it the longer I do so, Jura by contrast I am tempted to drink too fast, as it slips down all too easily.
The other thing to note is that despite the overall look being damaged by a ghastly customs and exise sticker, the thick bottle (shaped like a Victorian ceramic hot-water-bottle) is gorgeous! In recent months I have been the happy recpient of a bottle of Talisker (Skye), Aberlour (Speyside) and now this Jura. These three brilliantly contrasting malts will happily perptuate my Sunday-night-dram tradition for most of 2008 I think!