Review: Jura Seven Wood and Jura 18 Years Old

Jura, based on the Isle of Jura just one island over from Islay, has launched two new expressions, both of which join its permanent, national lineup. These will soon be replacing much of Jura’s current lineup, with Origin, Superstition, Diurachs’ Own 16 Years Old, and Prophecy all being sunsetted.

Let’s look at each of the new whiskies in turn.

Jura Seven Wood – This unique whisky, which carries no age statement, is “influenced by seven select French and American Oak barrels.” It is initially matured in first-fill American White Oak ex-bourbon barrels, then finished in six different French Oak casks — Limousin, Tronçais, Allier, Vosges, Jupilles, and Les Bertranges, all wood-producing regions in the country. Of special note, none of these casks have been used as wine casks — though it’s unclear what exactly they have been used for before ending up at Jura. Wood is indeed a strong element throughout the tasting experience of Seven Wood, starting on the nose, where a quite burly, almost New World character leads the way. Aromas of new lumber, roasted meat, allspice, and savory herbs are exotic but can be a bit daunting, muscling out the more approachable, sweeter aromas one might otherwise expect. The palate has a bit of sweetness at first, but with even a little time in glass this tends to dissipate. As it develops, the palate takes on a leathery, mushroom note, with flavors of hemp seed, bacon, and more toasty wood notes backing that up. Quite drying, it finishes on a spicy note that recalls allspice and layers in cloves and nutmeg, which is about as traditional as Seven Wood ever gets. Those looking for something off the beaten path may quite enjoy this, but it does tend to wander fairly far afield and never finds much in the way of balance. The name turns out to be perfectly apt. 84 proof. B- / $75

Jura 18 Years Old – This 18 year old single malt is matured in American White Oak ex-bourbon barrels and finished in European oak casks, formerly used to age an undisclosed red wine. It’s a more traditional whisky than the Seven Wood, but a well produced one to be sure. Malty and a little spicy on the nose, the whisky hints at nutmeg, licorice, and mint, with some dark chocolate and a touch of toasty wood making an appearance. On the palate, a stronger chocolate character dominates, with some clove clinging to the back of it. A burnt sugar note emerges as the palate develops, and here we see a little island influence, with a salted caramel note offering just the barest hint of briny peat character. The finish is sweeter than expected, and long with notes of spice and some hints of dark cherry and, from nowhere, a coffee bean note. Nice balance, with plenty to recommend. (Not to mention, a new single malt with an age statement? Color us shocked.) 88 proof. A / $130

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