Forgive and Forget?

Taste Review # 135 Glen Keith / Jura Journey bottle kills.

If you are reading this then I’d say there is a fair to middling chance that each one of you don’t have much space for more whisky. Of course, this is a really stupid statement as there is always space for more whisky if you are a whisky enthusiast. (Enthusiast sounds much better than geek and infinitely better than alcoholic).

A recent tidy up of the open bottles found a few that were ready to be dispatched. Any decent open whisky gets kept in the study after a wee accident with a bottle of Yellow Submarine and its subsequent consumption by my wife and mother in law. For them it could have been Bells or Grants, they wouldn’t have been worried. Therefore now only bottles I’m not too bothered about stay in the side board. There’s a healthy component of older Wild Turkey at 86 and 101 proof, but also there is what I’d describe as shite whisky.

I was a bit late to stop a backlash from one individual on Twitter when I used this term to describe a bottle. I’m well aware that nobody deliberately makes a “shite” whisky; this is only my opinion of whisky that I have just not engaged with or have no connection to it at all. While this individual contested he’s never had a bad whisky, only some better than others, that sounds like a ploy to ensure he offends nobody and the freebies keep coming. Sometimes I prefer delivering much more direct feedback. Anyhoo, room in the shite corner is limited, so for something to move in, something has to move out. And to this end we’ve had to have a couple of bottle kills.

Number one on the chopping block was the Glen Keith distillery edition. This is a whisky that I’ve conflicted thoughts about. I have bought a bottle of this as I liked the packaging and never have had an OB Glen Keith at the time of purchase. It went to the back of the cupboard and eventually into store as my wife bought me a bottle as well. It was going to be opened to show gratitude, but to be honest I didn’t think much of it. See my initial appraisal here – Giving Keith A Kicking.

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Great hopes were admittedly foolish. But you never know…

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After three years open, had my thoughts changed? There is a good chance they might but is it right to expect much from a £20 whisky from the Co-op? My thoughts on this dram quickly saw it relegated to hot toddies or guests who knew no better. But something kept dragging me back to find something positive about it. I can’t explain why, as it was rougher than an Ardvaarks knackersack. However, after recently making a hot toddy to try and shift an enduring cold, I thought I’d drink some neat. And what a surprise that turned out to be.

Was it good? Not quite. Much more tolerable is closer to the mark. Still quite thin on the mouth and the spirit burn was a little out of balance to be kind, but the orchard fruit really came through. I got pears first and then the green sharp apple. It was a lot clearer than when I last took this dram neat about 2 years ago.

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Not long left…

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Glen Keith Distillery Edition

Region – Speyside Age – NAS Strength – 40% abv Colour – Bright Gold Cask Type – Not stated but likely Bourbon Colouring – Yes Chill Filtered – Yes Nose – Toffee, vanilla, orchard fruits, mostly pear but a hint of sharp green apple. Palate – Thin mouthfeel. Little spirit burn on arrival, more pears, caramel, slight custard and banana, vanilla Finish – Short, sharp and drying. More orchard fruit. Caramel and vanilla plus a faint whiff of smoke.

A lesson learned?

Most of you reading this will know that drams do change if left open to oxidise a little bit. I’m glad that I didn’t give up on this dram, as the time I spent with it in the dying days of the bottle were not bad. Not special, not memorable but it basically did it’s job as a relaxing alcoholic drink. You know it’s young whisky, low ABV, coloured and chill filtered, but it still served its purpose. I’m going to forgive it’s place in Shite Dram Corner, as it was never going to meet my expectations in terms of what a decent whisky is.

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Gone.

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The tipping point for this was smelling the glass the morning after. What a wonderful rich toffee smell. I raised this in my initial review and to me, the extra time spent in the bottle has only improved the nose, if not the palate. I was a bit of a junkie going back to the glass throughout the day for a sniff before I succumbed to loading the dishwasher. So this led to a greater effort to drink it and appreciate it more. I don’t know if I can say it gained more in my estimations but I felt happy I’d found more positive notes, resulting in a smidge of regret when the bottle kill happened. On to the next victim.

With one bottle out of the cabinet, it was now a bit easier to see another long term resident – my half bottle of Jura Journey. I really disliked this dram for a variety of reasons. The main one was that it has very little taste or mouthfeel. A slight spirit burn and a hint of whisky taste and that’s your lot. I’ve also written about this in the past – A road best less travelled. This may be a little bit of a harsh review but I’ve kept it live as it is a true representation of how I felt at the time.

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Going…

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In my outlook, you have to be fair when reviewing whisky and accept there are will be whiskies you just won’t like and some may take time in the bottle to oxidise and lose their sharp edges. Seeing as I did this with Glen Keith, it’s only fair I do this with Jura Journey.

I would write tasting notes for the dram again, but it’s impossible. There is definitely nothing redeemable about this dram. It firmly deserved its place in my collection of drams below par. There is just no hit to it at all. While I can accept that everybody needs a beginner whisky, this just wouldn’t be it. On social media I hear more up to date bottlings of Jura Journey are worse than before, which I struggle to believe. Honestly Whyte and Mackay, this is an edition that in my opinion is negatively affecting the Jura brand. I’ve had Jura that I’ve enjoyed enough to go out and buy a full bottle, but not this one.

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Going…

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Life is too short to be drinking poor whisky and this one has been opened long enough to know it won’t change. Time to just accept that it’s time for a one way journey – down the sink.

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Gone…

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In the greater scheme of things, both these drams are forgettable. While it’s nice to try different things, there are some clues that point to shite whisky straight away. Being on offer at the Co-op is a prime one. 40% whisky with no age stated is another when it’s on a supermarket shelf.

It isn’t so long ago that I was standing in the till queue in a local Co-op where somebody asked for a bottle of Jura Journey. I resisted the urge to tell him it wasn’t the best and for the same price or slightly above there were far better options, but I didn’t. You have to remember that somebody will like it, and that’s their personal taste and shouldn’t be mocked. For me, looking back on both these drams, being able to forgive, forget then move on is probably for the best. Make room in the cabinet for more deserving drams. There are thousands out there.

Yours In Spirits

Scotty

Index of tastings here

Index of articles here


Photo Credits

All Photos – Authors Own

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