Day Fourteen in the Whisky Advent Calendar
*In this series, I’m working my way through the 2015 Master of Malt Whisky Advent. I had surgery in the middle, so we’re behind on the official dates.
Jura Superstition. I was introduced to Jura for the first time at the Whisky Event hosted by Opal Divine’s in Austin. Maybe one of the best whisky events I’ve ever attended in my life.
I’d never heard of it before that, and I was still new to the scotch world at the time, so I didn’t understand their use of Expression naming instead of age marker whiskies. Now that I understand that Jura focuses on taste expressions instead of tying themselves down to age markers, I love the art and risk behind their approach.
Jura’s distillery was established in 1810, about 30 years after private distilling had been officially banned. But it wasn’t until the 1960’s that the Jura distillery as we know it now came to exist. The Isle of Jura itself is only seven miles wide, and 20 miles long, has one road, one pub, and one distillery. It’s an amazingly tight community of people whose Gaelic moniker is Diurachs.
Superstition is just one of their expressions, and it’s a lovely one.
I had surgery last week, and I’m only just getting back into this tasting thing. So I employed 3 friends to join me in the experience and recorded the discussion with my iPhone. I will post the transcript below with nicknames to protect the guilty.
Daniel: Tell me what you smell or taste and remember there are no wrong answers. All that’s happening is you brain trying to categorize the smells and tastes with things it already knows and understands.
Make sure you smell only close enough that it doesn’t burn. As soon as it starts to burn, you’re too close.
What do you smell.
SprayTan: It’s kind of sweet
The Serge: Maybe butterscotch?
Daniel: Yeah, caramel and butterscotch are going to be common things found it almost every whisky just because that’s what happens when you put alcohol in wood.
There’s something almost sickly sweet in the smell.
BoxWine: Yeah, I’m finding almost a floral smell like honeysuckle or something green or natural kind of sweetness.
Daniel: I think I’m picking up more cheese. Like some kind of stinky blue cheese or goat cheese or something,
BoxWine: Have you ever had the Bri where they put caramel on it? I think I get that. It’s not salty, just creamy and sweet.
SprayTan: I’ll be honest with you, so many times I come up and taste with you and I consistently maintain that Springbank is my favorite, and I’m not a scotch guy. But you guys have since named the Springbank the “Asshole Scotch”. And I’m worried about what that means.
Daniel & BoxWine: No, no, no, we named it the Asshole scotch before you were ever there.
SprayTan: Okay, good. That’s better. I was wondering if it was some sort of personal commentary.
So this is very sweet, but it’s hard to be poetic. I’m not really good at this scotch thing. I get the same carmel that The Serge said.
Daniel: Ok, let’s try a first sip.
I’m getting a weird vegetable combo with the cheese like a broccoli cheese thing or a vegetable green combo with the cheese.
SprayTan: I love cheese and I eat cheese all the time. I know exactly what you taste. I don’t get the broccoli thing, but I totally get the smoky cheese thing
Daniel: I caught a hint of that sourness in the smell, but it really showed up in the taste.
Okay, let’s add a few drops of water to open it a bit.
That definitely opened up more of the smoke but it’s less harsh.
BoxWine: Yeah, a bit of a campfire thing going on right now.
The Serge: Well this is my first tasting, so I’m not finding anything really specific.
BoxWine: Orange peel maybe?
Daniel: Yeah, but it’s a bit bitter.
BoxWine: Yeah, maybe the Orange Zest bitter notes instead of citrus.
SprayTan: I taste that too! Man, cheese and orange, damn you guys are good. I think it’s because you guys are saying it, but I’m totally getting it.
BoxWine: Yeah, I get that cheese but I’m also getting notes of rubber or tires. That’s the word that kept coming to mind. Or new leather? Or maybe the glue inside of antique furniture? Like an old bookshelf or the drawers in antique furniture?
Daniel: (smells the drawer of an antique dresser about 2 feet from the table) Yep. That’s it. You nailed that one. Smell this.
BoxWine: (goes over to smell the drawer). Yes. We look ridiculous, but that’s definitely it.
Daniel: Must be the glue in the process or something. Dust and mold.
SprayTan: Oh Man, we got cheese, tires, and old books, hot damn! That’s worth the price of admission right there! That’s crazy.
I don’t know how you arrive at that, but it makes a lot of sense.
I’ll be honest, most scotch I’ve tried all tastes the same to me except SpringBank. I taste it and I only taste one thing. But once you tell me to look for all those things and mention things like “Look for this on the front of your tongue”. or “Look for this as you swallow and take a breath”. I definitely taste all of those things. It’s really wild.
Daniel: It’s all about pattern recognition. It really has only to do with how often you’ve repeated something while looking for common elements and patterns. It’s not voodoo or magic, it’s just brain science and pattern recognition.
SprayTan: Yeah, but with a bit more hair on your chest.
Daniel: It’s fun isn’t it?
SprayTan: It’s fun if only you didn’t have to puke at the end of the process. “Oh, THERE’S the cheese”
lots of laughter
BoxWine: (smelling his glass), Hmmmm, urine, shit, and a bit of vomit. But you know, the fancy vomit. Like the vomit from an art gallery wine and cheese event. Not the vomit from a Frat Party.
You know. A wealthy person’s vomit.
Daniel: Yeah, not poor people vomit. That’s the worst.
BoxWine: Like someone who only eats organic. Nice vomit.
Daniel: This should definitely be part of the marketing campaigns
SprayTan: It’s like the Best kind of vomit. Like vomit from Democrats. You know…. More pure.
Daniel: Alright, we’ve officially gone off the rails. Let’s call this one.
Thank you, gentleman.
If you made it this far, this one is for you. Because you know we were all thinking it.