Open Bottle: Nineteen Eighty-Four JURA

“Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.”

Released in 1949 George Orwell’s masterpiece Nineteen Eighty-Four often feels as alive and resonant as it must have when it was first published. Reading the headlines it feels like doublespeak, Big Brother, and New Speak have leapt from the lexicon of the theoretical into the mundanely of reality.

What was once meant as a cautionary tale has instead become the blueprint for how entire organizations operate.

The world has become vastly interconnected since 1984 and people are starting to realize how small a piece of the global whole they actually are. Some have risen to the challenge and sought to make their corner of that cold, distant expanse warm and welcoming. The seek to grow their communities.

Others, however, have become jealous of their small portion and rather than growing they shrink. They shrink from responsibility, from compassion and not only do they personally shrink they seek to diminish the world around them. To force the world to be smaller, leaving no room for those that are different or for those who seek an equal share in the world in which we must cohabitate.

Not exactly light, whisky sipping, thinking but these are thoughts that are constantly on my mind these days and were brought into sharp focus when presented with a dram of Jura’s 1984 Edition.

The Isle of Jura lies off the North-East shore of Islay, has one road, one pub and one distillery, the eponymous Jura. Orwell described the island as “extremely unget-at-able” which remains very true to this day. It was at the “unget-at-able” locale that Orwell wrote the bulk of Nineteen Eighty-Four while incredibly ill with tuberculosis fro 1947-1948. It’s this act of creative output that Jura is honoring with the 1984 Edition.

Casked in 1984 and bottled in 2014 this 30-year-old single malt was aged in ex-Bourbon, Amoroso (cream) sherry, and Apostoles Oloroso sherry casks. Only 1,984 bottles were released world wide making it a rather limited release. This is a lot of attention to detail to pay homage to an event that happened when the distillery didn’t exist.

The distillery was built in 1810 but fell into disrepair at the end of the 19th century. It wasn’t rebuilt and operational again until 1963. So there is clearly a bit of a marketing gimmick tied into this release, which is nothing new to the spirits world, and unlike most gimmicks this whisky is a phenomenal product.

NOSE: The nose is rich, redolent in those sherry aromas with nutmeg, dark dried fruit, raisins, and a noticeable touch of the sweet.

PALETTE: Deep cherry and candied orange peel. There’s also a hint of roasted peaches with a large dollop of honey and, of course, oloroso sherry.

FINISH: The dram has a medium finish that lingers with a surprising amount of spice for how sweet it starts, leaving the dry baking spices and a touch of dessert.

I don’t care what your marketing angle is as long as it’s true and the product is good. And this product is exceptional. The story being crafted is a bit forced but it is also clearly the result of a small community taking pride in its past and continuing to build for its future.

It is perhaps unfortunate that Orwellian thoughts float through my mind while sipping on this malt but then again the age that we live in requires us to be active participants in the world around us, even when just sipping on a whiskey.

Education is the best tool we have to enact change and I, for one, would not have known that George Orwell wrote Nineteen Eight-Four on Jura with out this bottle. With out this bottle I wouldn’t have spent a week researching and reflecting on the themes of a book I haven’t read since high school. Not only was I researching but I was also reexamining these themes in the light of the modern world and my adult experiences.

We must stand up, we must think for ourselves and not simply walk the party line. We must not become orthodox for, “Orthodoxy means not thinking–not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness.”



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