For an isle as unpopulated and remote, Jura in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland has made quite a name for itself. George Orwell, undoubtedly its most famous former resident, finished his classic novel Nineteen Eighty-Four on the island while lying on his back wracked with TB.
Jura, which has just one road, one pub and a population of less than 200, was famously described by Orwell as ‘completely un-getable’. Above all, the island is renowned for the single malt scotch whiskey which takes its name and has been produced on its shores since 1810.
We were invited to a magical evening celebrating the historic liquor over four courses of fine food hosted by the Disappearing Dining Club (DDC). The DDC, London’s specialist purveyor of eclectic food and drink experiences in unusual venues, converted LASSCO Ropewalk, an antiques store and workshop nestled beneath Victorian rail arches in Bermondsey, into an atmospheric pop-up for the night.
The evening began in the workshop with nibbles and a warming Jura-based winter mix served on worktops amid vices and machinery. We were then ushered into the shop and a dimly-lit makeshift dining room filled with antiques bearing price tags for the main event.
Each course was served with a different blend of Jura, judged by our hosts to compliment the dishes.
We started with Venison and Allspice Croquettes, rich balls of fine meat, accompanied by Jura Origin, described as an oaky whiskey with hints of honey and caramel.
The next course, in our view the highlight of the evening, was a Smoked Seafood Platter.
This smorgasbord of prawns, scallops, mussels and salmon was stunningly fresh and packed with smoked flavour. The platter was washed down with a glass of Diurachs’ Own, a Jura blend noted for its citrus fruit and toffee flavours.
Next we cleansed our palates with an Apple, Raspberry and Chili Granita, a punchy number that energised the taste buds for the next course.
Heavy on the stomach but perfect for a frosty November evening, we feasted on a hearty Pulled BBQ Short Rib Stew and Polenta Chips for the main course. The Jura label selected for this dish was Superstition, a smokey mix with hints of honey and pine.
To conclude, we enjoyed a Cherry Clafoutis and Vanilla Ice Cream, a delightfully sweet and chewy flan-like dessert served with Jura Prophecy, an especially festive number owing to its warming cinnamon-like underbelly.
If our extravagant taster session was anything to go by, Christmas should be a profitable period for the people at Jura HQ.