Thanks to /u/devoz for the sample.
Sorry to whiskyintelligence.com for stealing your image. Was the only one I could find of the bottle.
So I like Jura. I’ve never hid this obvious bias, I’ve never stated it’s normal, and I’m not going to start now. I know, particularly when discussing their OB range, there is a sentiment of not liking them. Or merely liking their peated malts, like me.
So when I was offered Isle of Jura Boutique Barrels 1995 Sauternes Finish, I was skeptical, but intrigued. Cask strength? Yes. An odd cask finish? Sure. Do I not know I don’t like Sauternes finishes yet, while loving the wine? You bet your sweet ass I did.
So there’s my biases out of the way. What the fuck is a Boutique Barrel?
It’s a term that those crazy, wonderful, nice Islanders from Jura use to designate a line of cask strength, no colour, no chill filtered, cask finished whisky. So the boutique barrels are the nice ones they finish these in.
This one was finished in Sauternes cask, a sweet white wine that you can Wikipedia it.
Let’s see how this tastes, shall we?
Price: N/A at the LCBO
Colour: 7.5YR 6/8
Nose: Pear, brown sugar, vegetal funk, grass, asparagus
Starts out sweet. Like a dessert. Then there’s this funk in the middle of it, and you’re right back at main course, eating your veggies.
The nose on this one is disjoint. Parts of it work, parts of it don’t. And I’d hate to see what would happen if I didn’t like asperagus.
Taste: Raspberry, pear, grape, cloves, lemon, chestnut, mint, pineapple
Sweet, citrus filled finish. Lots of fruit, some nuttiness, mostly just citrus. The Sauternes cask has taken over completely. Or rather mixed with the non-peated, citrus containing malt.
Not that it actually has citrus, it just has a flavour that my brain thinks is citrus. But let’s not get into that argument again.
Finish: Pear syrup, herbal, caramel, alcohol, banana, cream, sharp apple cider
Very sharp finish, with lots of alcohol. Notes that don’t go together, and in all honesty, the cider takes over too much. It’s heavy handed on it, and while it would be a nice dram balanced with some of it, it overall takes over and leaves you with sour, strong notes.
Conclusion: It’s not a bad dram. I’m just not the right person to drink it. I’m really starting to think that ex-Sauternes casks aren’t my thing. I know I’m not the biggest fan of the unpeated Jura.
That said, for all those biases against it, I can still see some promise here. There’s interesting notes throughout, and beyond the nose and unbalancing of the finish, there’s promise here. I’d certainly try more boutique barrels as they pop up.
Now if they used peated malt in them, I’d be even happier.
Scotch review #571, Island review #50, Whisky Network reviews #950