Whisky Magazine Issue 53
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Jura makes no economic sense. But when it comes to putting quality before profit it stands like a beacon. Ian Buxton made the long journey
Burning money is boring. Official.
Famously (or should that be notoriously?), musicians and art pranksters the KLF burnt a million quid on Jura in August 1994. In cash. There were bundles of 50,000 stuffed into the flames like a guilty confession.
Journalist Jim Reid watched the whole thing for The Observer and confessed that it got rather dull. They passed around a bottle of whisky (distillery not recorded) and poked the fire from time to time to make sure all the cash was gone.
A little survived, of course. One bemused islander handed in £1,500 to the police. It was never claimed, and he got it back. Was it art by then, or just hot money?
Making whisky on Jura is a little like burning money. It's “an extremely ungetable place,” as George Orwell remarked, far from ‘'noise, motor cars, the radio, tinned food, central heating, ‘modern' furniture.'' And, for that matter, barley fields, maltings, bottling lines and other helpful whiskymaking accessories.
So, to keep the Isle of Jura distillery running a fleet of heavy lorries is required – 22 a week just to remove by-products. Malt is delivered in 40 tonne juggernauts, spirit hauled away in giant tankers.
There's nothing so very exceptional in that, except that the distillery is eight miles up a single track road that you reach on a tiny ferry that only takes one lorry at a time.
Then another ferry journey, around two hours this time, is needed to get to and from the mainland. And the terminal is another three...