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The Editor's Choice

Four Isle of Jura bottlings
By Jonny McCormick
The Jura Distillery is situated in Craighouse, just eight miles from the Feolin ferry slipway that links it to Port Askaig on Islay. The distillery was closed from 1901 until 1963 when a consortium began to rebuild the distillery in 1960. There is a well known photograph of the re-opening of the distillery on April 26th 1963 which shows Lord Polwarth, Tony Riley-Smith, W. McEwan Younger and William Delmé-Evans. One of the purposes of building the distillery was to provide employment and to halt the steady decline in the island population. The Isle of Jura distillery sought to make a different spirit to its peaty neighbours across the Sound, though currently, they still dedicate one month a year to making heavily peated spirit. Jura offers good value at auction, so here are four longer-aged official bottlings from the 1960s and 1970s to nose out in the salesrooms.


Isle of Jura


36 Year Old

44% ABV

Bottler: Whyte & MacKay
Region: Islands
WM tasting scores: N/A
Recent auction price: £300
Auction: McTear's, Glasgow
Date: January 2014

Comment: When this bottle was close to release, I remember Willie Tait, then Master Distiller for Isle of Jura whisky, walking around Whisky Live Glasgow dispensing drams of this from a sample bottle hidden under his Argyll jacket. It was the best whisky that I tasted all day. This single cask edition was distilled after production resumed in 1963 and only 449 bottles were released.


Isle of Jura


30 Year Old

55% ABV

Bottler: Whyte & MacKay
Region: Islands
WM tasting scores: N/A
Recent auction price: £310
Auction: Scotch Whisky Auctions
Date: November 2013

Comment: This is the Mickey Heads' 30 year old bottling in the corrugated tube. It was distilled in November 1973 and matured in a Gonzalez Byass Oloroso Sherry Cask. Although Mickey is now better known as the Ardbeg Distillery manager, he hand signed all 468 bottles of this limited edition when he was manager of the Jura Distillery. It is becoming rather hard to find.


Isle of Jura


1974 Vintage

44.5% ABV

Bottler: Whyte & MacKay
Region: Islands
WM tasting scores: N/A
Recent auction price: £370
Auction: Scotch Whisky Auctions, Glasgow
Date: October 2013

Comment: More robustly packed than either of the first two selections, the 1974 bottling was distilled in October of that year. I poured this at a Whisky Live VIP Masterclass in London one year, and it really switched whisky drinkers on to the complex flavours in these fantastic old Jura bottlings.


Isle of Jura


1976, Feith A' Chaorainn

46% ABV

Bottler: Whyte & MacKay
Region: Islands
WM tasting scores: 87 & 84 (Issue 100)
Recent auction price: £380
Auction: Scotch Whisky Auctions, Glasgow
Date: February 2014

Comment: The Gaelic moniker translates as 'The land around the Rowan Tree', and this Bourbon matured bottling was a departure from sherry for the releases from the 1970s. For contrast, their Jura 1977 Jura bottling, is a Bourbon-matured whisky finished in ruby port pipes.