I have never been to the Isle of Jura in my life. Yet, I have already attended the distillery’s annual whisky festival no less than three times! Sounds highly improbable, I know. But thanks to Jura’s distributor Borco Marken Import it is actually possible. Cause once a year, the North-German company organizes its own version of the Jura Whisky Festival in Hamburg. The whole thing takes place on a scrapped crane barge in Oevelgoenne Museum Harbor and promises a super-fun day packed with great live music, yummy street food, cool framework activities and, of course, amazing drams and cocktails – all based on Jura’s popular line of single malt Scotch whiskies.
Speaking of which: The recent festivities marked my first touchpoint with the distillery’s overhauled core range, which got unveiled in March of this year. Throughout the day I tried the complete quintet of new Jura expressions. All five of them – the three that carry an age statement (10yo, 12yo and 18yo) as well as the two that don’t (Journey and Seven Wood) – were really great and offered a very nice interplay of sweetness and smoke (which is the island unit’s proclaimed house-style from now on). Once I find the time to savor them without ruffle or excitement, I will hopefully be able to tell you a bit more about them. But for the time being, let me just say: “Hey, these whiskies rock”!
The programme of the Jura Whisky Festival 2018 was diverse and helluva fun. Among others, there were sculptors, musicians, barbers, tattoo artists and the likes, all of which performed their crafts for free. Mouthwatering veggie burgers and pigling sandwiches as well as refreshing cocktails and craft beers were sold for no more than 3 Euro a piece. And besides grabbing drinks from the bar and enjoying them right there by the sea, you could also participate in various whisky tastings and food pairings. Of these, I did “Whisky & Coffee” with Gearoid O’Callaghan of The Whisky Jack (10 Euro) and “Whisky & Bites” with Fabio Häbel of the eponymous restaurant (25 Euro).
The coffee pairing had us slurp four different expressions of black gold – each of which came from another one of Hamburg’s many roasting houses. First we tried them on their own and then in combination with the light Jura Journey and the complex Jura Seven Wood. While coffee and whisky might seem to be an unusual pair at first, it was pretty amazing to see how these two liquids could push each other. We always sipped the brew first and the distillate second. In some cases the coffee got sweeter, in some cases it got milder and in yet again other cases it got more powerful when enjoyed as a follow-up to a mouthful of Scotch. This certainly was an exciting experience!
As I already did the food pairing last year, I knew what I was in for. Still, the niblets we received from the insanely talented hæbel team surpassed my high expectations above and beyond! We started with roasted asparagus with sea trout caviar and butter sauce. Then we had brined mackerel with mustard sauce and sauté potato mash. Course three was hanging tender (an incredible delicate piece of beef) with onion omelette and peas. And for dessert we got panna cotta with corn creme and different kinds of strawberries. Each dish was accompanied by a dram of Jura, which harmonized perfectly with the “Nordic French Cousine” on our plates. There is no other way to put it: For the 45 minutes that the pairing lasted, me and the 19 other participants of the sold-out event were in culinary heaven!
So what else is there left to say? The weather was amazing, the organization smooth and the atmosphere relaxed. The 8 hours that my girlfriend and I stayed at the Jura Whisky Festival 2018 flew by like crazy. During our stay, we met old friends and new people alike, sharing drams and laughter and stories with all of them. When we finally left, we might have been a little tipsy. But more than that, we were happy and thankful for the wonderful time we just had. Of course, we will be back next year and if you happen to be in Hamburg when the Jura Whisky Festival 2019 takes place, I hope you will be able to pay the event a visit, too!
Borco-Marken-Import: https://www.borco.com/ (Organizer)
Jura Whisky: http://www.jurawhisky.com/ (Distillery)
hæbel: https://www.facebook.com/haebelhamburg/ (Cuisine)
Museumshafen Oevelgönne: http://www.museumshafen-oevelgoenne.de/ (Location)
Facebook Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1595389950578631/ (More info)