In partnership with Jura Whisky
One of the remote islands found in the Inner Hebrides, Jura is one of Scotland’s natural hidden gems. Its strong sense of community – there are only 212 people on the island – and its incredible natural beauty have enticed tourists to make the journey to visit, and convinced others to pack up their things and fully embrace the lure of island living.
It wouldn’t be remiss to say that the Jura Distillery is the beating heart of the island. Not only is it a significant employer for residents on the island, as well as a supporter of the local community and economy, but its history speaks to the resourcefulness and pride that the Duirach Spirit holds. Producing four distinctive single malt scotch whiskies, Jura has been recognised internationally for the spirits it distils.
One pub, one road – and one hell of dedication to making great whisky.
The Jura Distillery was founded in 1810 by members of Clan Campbell – a noble family who held a strong influence over Jura and its land up until the 1930s. The whisky originally produced was peaty, distinctively different from the scotch whisky we know today. Following a further rebuild in 1884, the distillery was producing around 64,000 gallons of whisky a year. But by the late 19th century, it had fallen into disuse and was permanently closed.
Enter some intrepid Jura locals. Two landowners, a blender and a distillery designer decided they not only want to reinvigorate the distillery but provide jobs and support for the local community. The build was completed in 1963 and the Jura Distillery was back open for business. At the time, it employed a quarter of the male population on the island.
So, what makes Jura whisky so different? Is it the sense of community spirit behind it? Or perhaps the skill of the people that make it?
Every whisky begins with three basic ingredients – water, barley and yeast. But that’s where the similarities to other whiskies stop.
The water used comes straight from the base of the Paps, a mountain range on the west side of the island with three distinctive, cone-shaped formations overlooking it. Water – and in the colder months, snow – trickles down from the highest peak of the mountain, into the nearby Loch Market and travels up streams and down waterfalls to the distillery to be collected and used. The water is crisp and fresh, with no nastiness getting into it, ensuring their single malt remains pure.
When it comes to distilling, Jura has some of the tallest stills of any distillery in the world! Their philosophy is simply ‘the bigger the still, the purer the spirit’. Then, it’s left to mature in barrels that have been hand-selected from across the globe to ensure a greater depth of flavour.
Lastly, the whisky is bottled in the Jura bottle – a stout glass with broad shoulders and a rounded shape. Historically, this shape was considered the toughest when it came to braving rough seas, making it perfect for shipping all over the world and giving new people a real taste of Jura.
Jura produces four specific single malt scotch whiskies – as well as the occasional special edition bottle – uniquely curated to showcase the flavours and ingredients the island provides. Some are aged for ten, sixteen or even eighteen years, left to age in French oak or Red Wine Cask, others are given a little something extra to create a brand-new taste sensation for drinkers. Whichever you prefer to try, each of the whiskies is made with high-quality ingredients and are lively, smooth and playful – just like the people who made it.
– “Origin” – inspired by the rejuvenation of the distillery in the 1960s and the growth of the local community around it, this whisky has a smooth, clean taste.
– “Superstition” – smoky and sweet at the same time, the name for this peaty blend was inspired by Diruach’s of old, who were quite superstitious. Local standing stones and rock formations on the island only confirm this.
– “Diurachs’ Own’ – the name given to a resident of Jura, this deep whisky is aged for sixteen years and is often the whisky of choice for islanders enjoying a drink.
– “Prophecy” – Peaty and salty, this whisky gets its name from an old island prophecy that the last of the Campbell’s (who began the distillery in the 19th century) would leave the island penniless and one-eyed. In 1938, the prophecy came true. The last Campbell – Charles – left with no money and was blind in one eye from a war injury, just as had been predicted.
Jura Whisky has also won multiple awards for its blends, including a Double Gold Medal for Superstition at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition (2010) and Gold (Best In Class) for Prophecy at the International Wine and Spirits Competition.
The Jura Distillery plays a big role in the local community. Jura prides itself on welcoming everyone to the island with open arms, and two people, in particular, are helping keep the distillery running even through these turbulent times.
Distillery manager Graham Logan has been working on Jura since 1991. Having worked in every single department of the distillery, he learned on the job how the team crafted their unique selection of whiskies with care and good quality, discovering how certain processes created a single malt. A quick convert to the majesty of the island when he first arrived, he now oversees the whole team who make the whisky, ensuring every drop is of the highest quality.
And it’s not just the people who work at the distillery who take pride in the whisky being produced. Community runs through the factory floor, and the locals have just as much impact on the distillery as those who work for it.
Island living can have its challenges and its rewards, but the 212 people who make up Jura’s population are close-knit and proud of their namesake exports. The stories of the island inspire the whisky makers every day – whether that’s influencing new flavours or production methods, or documenting the history and goings on of the distillery on social media and at their on-site visitors centre.
Whisky runs through the blood of the island. Serving its local community, the Jura Distillery remains of the area’s highlights – and is not to be missed when you head up to the Inner Hebrides. There, you’ll find a Diurach’s welcome, with open arms and an expertly crafted glass of Jura Whisky.