Jura Boutique Barrels? You know you want them!

Jura Boutique BarrelWhat is a boutique? It is a place on George Street in Edinburgh where my missus goes to buy a piece of fabric made in China, worth more than a couple of bottles of good whisky, which she is only going to wear once. Doesn’t sound like I’m a fan, right? In all honesty even the sound of the word used to give me shivers… but it seems that recent releases from Isle of Jura distillery could change the bad connotation of this word for me. Really.

It is indeed a great summer so far. After that spectacular Balblair 2000 I had a chance to try recently, I also got to work my way through three rather unique expressions of Jura – Boutique Barrels. I’ll put it simply – they were very good. And the Boutique I liked least was still better than the Jura Pap I like most. And Boutique Barrels are cheaper than Paps. And they have a much cooler name!

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Isle of Jura 1995 Boutique Barrel
‘Bourbon JO Finish’
56.5% ABV
£63.95

Nose: A rich nose of elderflower, cedar wood and floor polish with chocolate-coated marzipan lingering in the background. Makes me think of German Market in Edinburgh around Xmass. Water brings out pine forest undergrowth and finally treats me to a glimpse of the signature Juron.

Taste: First smooth then spicy then juicy then bitter. A chameleon of a dram. A bit like licking an unwashed orange. Some nutmeg and black cardamom bite to it too.

Finish: heavily roasted whole coffee beans, 90% chocolate and a well pronounced touch of smoke. A dodgy club or a deep cellar.

Overall: A belter.

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Isle of Jura 1993 Boutique Barrel
‘Sherry JI Finish’
54% ABV
£72.49

Nose: Juron much more prominent but this time more on a peanut butter side. Not at all unpleasant. Italian walnut cheese, Nutella… fat, sweet and mellow. Water brings out big juicy red apples, honey and coconut. Distillery style alive and kicking.

Taste: Smoke at first, turns oaky to linger and eventually step over to the dark fruit side with a strong plum and cherry umpf.

Finish: A reminiscence of the smoke and a mellow slide down after a bitter explosion.

Overall: Engaging and assertive. I like the distillery style flexing muscles. Not big on the Bitter Daddy of a finish. Willie Tait’s favourite of the three, for me an honourable 3rd place. Agree on disagreeing I guess.

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Isle of Jura 1999 Boutique Barrel
‘Bourbon XU Finish – Heavy Peat’
55% ABV
£54.95

Nose: Wholegrain toast, burned caramel and deep-fried Mars bar. A touch of tobacco and fine perfume. Autumn grass and a slight touch of antiseptic. The smoke is in balance with the rest of the aroma spectrum. A civilised brute.

Taste: More wood and Autumn fruit become apparent. The civilised theme continues through a banana-clove estery development to a completely burned butterscotch finish.

Overall: After a good Jura Prophecy release yet another smoky stunner in a short period of time. Could Jura maintain this quality of heavily peated spirit on a large scale? Yes. But would there be a point?

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Still not enough boutique chat? Watch Willie Tait and Willie Cochrane taste the Boutique Barrels here. It goes on for a while but some comments are priceless.

Lucas

Comments

  1. When I visited the distillery in May, one week before the Festival, the lovely people at Jura had these on display but, alas, they weren’t for sale until Feis Ile kicked off. I joked about simply pedalling away with the bottles. The staff in the VC made the very good point that getting off Jura isn’t easy, and I would be apprehended by Richard Paterson with a big stick at Feolin ferry port.
    Leaving them in-situ, this trio of expressions particularly caught my eye amongst the impressively-packaged NAS stuff and the other deluxe vintages and were very reasonably priced.

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