Isle of Jura is a distillery that I don’t understand. Their official bottlings, at least the ones I’ve tried, are a mess, especially the Seven Wood. But thanks to The Whisky Cellar, I’ve been able to try a good indy one recently, and I tried another one, more than okay, bottled by SMWS at the absolutely marvellous Dornoch Castle Whisky bar in 2019, a 1983 called Islands Hopping. But apart from those two indies, nope, no good one. However, I often hear good things from friends about other indy Juras. So let’s keep an open mind and see if the Italian independent bottler that never disappointed me until now got it right with this Isle of Jura 1998 Hidden Spirits.
Isle of Jura 1998 Hidden Spirits Review
So, what do we have here? We have an Isle of Jura distilled in 1998 and bottled in 2019 by Hidden Spirits. It was matured for 21 years in a refill Bourbon Hogshead #JU9819 (I wonder what the cask number could mean…). It gave 267 bottles at 51.3% abv, without chill filtration nor colouring. At the time of writing, The Whisky Roundabout, an Italian shop has the name doesn’t hint at all, has one last bottle for 153€; otherwise a few other German and Italian shops still have some for between 180 and 200€. Check the Whiskybase page for this Jura to get the links.
The nose is quite fruity, with bananas, pear, peaches and apricots. There is also a kind of metallic note, it’s as if you were eating a fruit salad directly from the tin. Some herbaceous notes as well as parsley and wet moss. Menthol and eucalyptus provide a fresh touch, while there is also a faint paint thinner note. Custard cream too.
With water, some faint farmyard notes as well as slight grain whisky notes.
Soft citrusy and slightly spicy arrival. Pepper dusted oranges, freshly pressed grapefruit juice, very soft notes of oak. Toasted baguette with salted butter. Milk chocolate and Espelette chili pepper.
Reduction gives more wood and a tad more pepper, making it sourer.
Wood spices, lemon, pepper and coffee beans, with a slight touch of honey. Good length, very slightly drying.
I started tasting this Jura yesterday and strangely the nose was a horrible mix of farmyard and rotten bananas. That didn’t feel right, especially with friends having a bottle and loving it, so I decided to pour my dram back into its sample bottle, and get back to it the day after (today, the day this blog post is published). And I did well to consider that something was wrong with my nose, because now it’s a completely different story. It’s fruity, lively, with fresh herbaceous notes, not too woody if you don’t add water. I really enjoyed this Jura and I cannot but wonder how they can fuck up their official bottlings when they have good juice that independent bottlers like Hidden Spirits can uncover and let whisky enthusiasts enjoy. Thanks to them, I’ve had my first very good Jura. So grazie mille for this.