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Jura Superstition

Review: Jura Superstition Single Malt Whisky  (86.5/100)
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted February 26, 2017

My original review for Jura Superstition Single Malt Whisky was published in September of 2011. Being so long away from the spirit , when I had a chance to re-visit the Superstition (at an event hosted by Ryan Engen who is the Director of Spirits, for Liquor Stores N.A. Inc. at the Edmonton Wine and Beyond McTagggert Ridge location) I knew that I had to write a new review to update how the brand may or may not have changed.

Jura Superstition continues our exploration as we visit the Isle of Jura which is an island in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland, situated just a little north-east of Islay. It is a small Island being only seven miles wide and is 30 miles long. It apparently has only one road and one hotel, and its population is about 200 people strong. The Distillery (the island has only one), was built at an old smugglers’ cave near the hamlet of Craighouse in 1810. Unfortunately the distillery in those early days led a troubled life, and it soon fell into disrepair and was abandoned. It was not until 153 years later, in 1963, that the distillery was rebuilt by two local businessmen, Robin Fletcher and Tony Riley-Smith who then began to distill their Jura Single Malt Whisky.

Jura Superstition is said to be  a union of two whisky styles, a bold peated whisky (about 13 % of the blend) and non-peated lighter more delicate whiskies. The spirit is meant to revel in the ancient superstitions which surround the Isle of Jura.

According to the Jura Single Malt Whisky website:

Jura is an island wrapped in Superstition with a litany of strange and bewildering customs. It is believed that pouring from this bottle with the Ankh cross in the centre of your palm is a ritual that will bring good health and good fortune.

The spirit has no age statement, but is priced similarly to the Isle of Jura 10 and 12 Year Old Whiskies which perhaps give us a hint at the age of the whiskies in the blend. It is bottle at 43 % alcohol by volume.

In the Bottle 5/5

I have mentioned before that the marketing people in Scotland always seem to be just ahead of us guys in North America. Their single malt whiskies always seem to have just that bit of pizzazz in the presentation that sets them apart from the other whisky bottles on my shelf. The Jura Superstition is no exception, the bottle arrives in a classy box, it has a unique shape and is corked as good whisky should be. Even the labeling is professional and exudes a certain class. I especially like the added touch of the Ankh cross on the face of the bottle which is to be held against the palm as you pour it to give you good luck and fortune.

(When I poured a dram for a friend, he immediately asked about the ankh cross. I told him about the implied superstition and our dram was in that way combined with shared conversation. (I am pretty sure that was the intended effect.)

In the Glass 8.5/10

The colour of the whisky in the glass is a nice copper with an obvious orange tincture when held up to the light. When I tilted my glass and gave it a slow swirl I noticed the whisky imparted long slender legs which ran quickly back into whisky. If I closed my eyes and held the glencairn under my nose I could imagine I was in an evergreen forest with damp moss covering the ground. A boggy meadow must be nearby as I smell damp peat under the meadow grass, with lush ferns and willow bushes clinging to its edges. Sawgrass and timothy hay are growing in the meadow with summer flowers just beginning to bloom. Sweet malted barley smells have wafted in from beyond the forest and light scents of marmalade, vanilla and baking spices have drifted in.

The dram is inviting me to steal a sip.

In the Glass 52/60

The initial sip from the glass brings me sweet butterscotch which is combined with lightly salty, somewhat boggy,  organic pea with flavours of heather, lavender and a touch of menthol. Fine oak spices add to the dram’s character. Some sweet malty flavours come forward to accent the earthy flavour of the peat. I taste smoky dry fruit (prunes dates and raisins), baked apples and pears, and tinges of cinnamon and baking spices. As I continued to sip I also noticed dried apricots, marmalade, and a scattering of tea leaves that add to the character of the whisky and this pleases me even more.

The only flaw (and it is a small one) is that I find the whisky slightly sharp for a 43 % alcohol by volume bottling.

In the Throat 12.5/15

The finish is mid-length with peppery spice, organic peat and sherry smoke mingling with the sweet butterscotch. There is a touch more discomfort in my throat than I would like, but the exit flavours are complex which keeps me engaged.

The Afterburn 8.5/10

My score has dropped a little in the six years since I last tasted the Jura Superstition, and this is related to the light sharpness I now sense and taste within the dram. I suspect this change may have to do with the changing character of the oak barrels used to age whisky throughout the world. Barrels are being stretched further than ever before, and this is leading to slightly sharper whisky with just a different (less robust) oak character than before.

You may read some of my other Whisky Reviews (click the link) if you wish to have some comparative reviews.

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Suggested Recipe:

Blood and Sand (the cocktail) was apparently named for the Rudolph Valentino 1922 bullfighter movie of the same name. The connection is by no means certain, as the first printed recipe for the bar drink did not appear until 8 years later in the Savoy Cocktail Book (1930).  The Savoy Cocktail Book’s recipe calls for equal parts orange juice, scotch whisky, cherry brandy and Italian vermouth which make the bar drink easy for both the home and the profession bartender to master.

Today, it is common to see recipes which replace the orange juice with the juice of the Blood Orange. Not only does this play nicely with the name of the cocktail, but the tart, almost raspberry-like flavour of the blood orange is complimentary to the bar drink making it a slightly drier (and to me more appealing) serving. When a high quality (moderately) peated single malt whisky is used as well, the Blood and Sand becomes a wonderful wintertime cocktail.

SAM_1022 Blood and Sand

Blood and Sand (Peated)

3/4 oz Peated Scotch Whisky (Jura Superstition)
5/8 oz Sweet Vermouth (Martini Rosso)
5/8 oz Cherry Brandy (Bols)
3/4 oz Fresh Squeezed Blood Orange Juice
ice
Orange Zest or Peel (optional)

Add the first four ingredients into a metal shaker with ice
Shake until the outside of the shaker frosts
Strain into a cocktail glass
Garnish with orange peel (optional)

If  you are interested in more cocktail recipes, please click this link (Cocktails and Recipes) for more mixed drink recipes!

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As always you may interpret the scores I provide as follows.

0-25 A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49 Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59 You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69 Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74 Now we have a fair mixing rum or whisky.  Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79 You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84 We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89 Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94 Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+ I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.

Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be more familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and  Bronze medal  scale as follows:

70 – 79.5    Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5     Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95         Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+            Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)

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