gavin smith

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Isle of Jura

by Gavin D Smith

Isle of Jura Distillery
Isle of Jura
PA60 7XT

Tel: 01496 820240
Fax: 01496 820344

The distillery is located on the A846 in the small island 'capital' of Craighouse.



Low key, friendly, knowledgeable tours, plus complementary dram. For the serious connoisseur there is also the Jura Fellowship, a five day residential course based in the splendidly refurbished Jura Lodge. Tours are available all year round by prior appointment. There is an admission charge.


The original Jura distillery is thought to have been established in 1810, but was first licensed to William Abercrombie in 1831. It is sometimes claimed that whisky-making in the area can be traced back to 1502. Distilling continued at Craighouse under a number of different licensees until James Ferguson & Co took over in 1876. The operation ceased in 1901, due to a dispute between Ferguson and his landlord, Colin Campbell. Ferguson stripped the distillery of its equipment, and Campbell removed the roofs of the buildings in 1920 to avoid having to pay tax.

Jura appeared to be a lost distillery, until 1960, when Charles Mackinlay & Co set out to restore whisky-making to the island, with the notable distillery designer William Delmé-Evans being recruited for the project, which used the site and some of the existing buildings in Craighouse. The whisky distilled in the old Jura distillery had been heavily peated, like that of its Islay neighbours, but the 'new' Jura plant was equipped with taller stills and used lightly peated malt to produce spirit closer to the Highland style.

By the time the first spirit flowed in 1963, Mackinlay & Co had become part of Scottish & Newcastle Breweries Ltd, which ran the distillery until its acquisition by Invergordon Distillers Group plc in 1985. The first single malt was released in 1974, and four years later a second pair of stills was added. In 1993 Invergordon Distillers was taken over by Whyte & Mackay Ltd, which continues to operate the distillery today.


Jura is equipped with two pairs of stills and has an annual capacity of 2.5mla. The malt is peated to 2ppm, and predominantly ex-Bourbon casks are used for maturation, along with some Sherry butts.

The Spirit:

The 'house style' is medium-bodied, quite dry, with pine, hazelnuts, spice and a whiff of peat smoke. Principal single malt expressions include Isle of Jura 10, 16, 18 and 21-year-old, plus Superstition. Jura is also a key component of the Whyte & Mackay family of blends.


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